DRAGONFRUIT

Juicy, succulent, slightly sweet with a mouthfeel similar to berries, especially the strawberry; which is what this dragonfruit reminds me of. 

dragonfruitcutDragonfruit or Pitaya, originates in Mexico and Central America, although it has made its way to various Asian countries and is widely cultivated in places like Thailand and Vietnam. It is actually the fruit of a cactus, similar to a prickly pear. I’m always curious when I see daunting looking vegetation, about the first person to give it a try. The dragonfruit’s visage definitely gives one pause, even in all of its beauty.  As is true of any good fairy tale containing a dragon, the story of the dragon fruit from start to finish is a tale of romantic intrigue and anticipation. The cactus produces a bud, which becomes a flower that lives for one night only and must be pollinated on that night if it is to become a fruit. The bud grows and when ready it blooms in all of its magnificent glory and waits for some night visitor to help it actualize its full potential. They rely on bats and other night insects to help with the process. Then the next morning the flower begins to wilt and die, if it was successfully pollinated it will become a beautiful fruit. If not... ):   

I have seen dragonfruit from time to time in the market but never actually tried one until this morning. Purchased just for today’s flavor, I sliced it open with anticipation, not sure at all what I would find. It is an absolutely beautiful fruit. The little black seeds beautifully contrast the deep red flesh; for all of its visual intensity the flavor is actually quite subtle. Simple and refreshing, I could see including this fruit in summer foods to create a fresh and visually stimulating dish.

dragonfruitflower

From a culinary perspective, dragonfruit can add to both savory and sweet dishes, although it appears that it most definitely lends itself to the sweeter side. A quick search on the culinary side of things reveals recipes for ice cream, mousse, smoothies, and even salsa. I think I will be turning what’s left of my dragonfruit into a salsa.

From a health perspective, the dragonfruit supplies some great nutrients. Vitamins A, C, and B. Minerals like phosphorous and calcium, as well as, quite a few antioxidants specific to ‘tropical’ fruit. Research suggests that dragonfruit can aid in regulating blood sugar levels, help lower cholesterol, and increase immune function. It is high in fiber and the seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids.