Dried fruit tastes too good to ignore.
Particularly at this time of year when theres not a lot of sweetness to be had (produce-wise), dried fruit can come to the rescue in both savory dishes and desserts.
Think like a Sicilian and combine raisins with salty or pungent flavors. I made a pasta the other day with broccoli, salted anchovies, raisins and pine nuts. Or toss a handful of raisins into a kale and wild rice salad to offset the dark greens slight bitterness. (Steep them in warm water or brandy to soften a little before cooking.)
Raisins or prunes are great with braised meats; just add them close to the end so they soften but dont fall apart.
Sweets? Besides the obvious scattering raisins in just about anything possible: cookies, cakes, puddings and even pie fillings I always have a jar of prune compote in the refrigerator during the winter.
Make a strong brew by cooking black tea in a simple syrup with spices and orange zest, and poach the prunes just long enough to soften them slightly.
Serve the prunes and their syrup with a spoonful of yogurt and youve got a terrific dessert thats always on hand.
PRUNE COMPOTE IN BLACK TEA
15 minutes, plus cooling time; makes 3 cups
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 allspice berries
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
2 bags black tea
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 pound prunes
Bring the water, sugar, cloves, allspice, cinnamon and black tea bags to a boil in a large saucepan.
Add the orange zest and prunes, then remove from the heat and let stand until cool.
Discard tea bags and refrigerate until ready to use.
Nutrition per half cup: 279 calories, 2 g protein: 74 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 0 g fat, 0 g cholesterol, 54 g sugar, 2 mg sodium.