These parfaits are as beautiful for breakfast as they are refreshing, for dessert. The addition of a few ripe rounds of banana is very strategic, since their creaminess adds a surprising (and very soothing) contrast to the cold, juicy melon.
For the parfaits
- 1 rounded cup (1/2 dry pint) blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries), plus 2 extra beautiful berries, per person, for garnish
- 1 rounded tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
- 4 cups cut up melon, from 2 or 3 different types of ripe melon, including watermelon, if available (or make melon balls using a melon-baller )
- 2 large, ripe, but firm bananas
- 1 to 2 teaspoons strained fresh lemon juice
- 2 8-ounce containers vanilla yogurt
- Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
- Optional additions: Your favorite granola or some dry-toasted, sliced almonds
To make the berry puree
Place the berries into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade, or in a blender. Process the berries until thoroughly pureed. Place a generous tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam into a 1-quart saucepan. Position a fine-mesh sieve over the pot and pour the berry puree into the sieve. Using a sturdy rubber or a wooden spatula, rub the puree through the sieve, leaving the seeds behind (straining is not necessary if using strawberries). Bring the pureed mixture just to a simmer, over low heat, stirring to break up any coagulated jam. Remove this from the stove, pour it into a bowl and let it cool.
To prepare the bananas for the parfaits
When you’re almost ready to serve the parfaits, cut the banana into either rounds or dice or make balls of banana, using a melon-baller. (To do this, lay each peeled banana on a flat surface. Use a gentle but firm hand to scoop down into the banana flesh, making a full clockwise revolution with the scoop. Lift the scoop and, to help the banana ball pop out, knock the stem of the scooper over the rim of a bowl.) When you’ve measured at least 1 cup of cut banana pieces, toss them with the lemon juice, to prevent them from discoloring.
To assemble the parfaits
Gently fold together the banana and melon. Place 1 1/4 cups of the fruit into each parfait glass and ladle 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt over the fruit. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the berry puree on top of the yogurt and allow the parfait to sit for a few minutes so the toppings can trickle down throughout the fruit. If desired, top each parfait with a tablespoon or so of your favorite granola or some sliced toasted almonds. Garnish each serving with two plump berries and a beautiful sprig of fresh mint.
To toast nuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place nuts on a shallow baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the type of nut and whether they’re whole, sliced, skinned or not). Use your nose as your guide. As soon as you smell that first savory waft of toasting nuts, they’re almost done. Nuts with skins toast quicker than blanched (skinless) ones and it’s best to shimmy the pan to occasionally distribute while they’re in the oven. (Over-toasting nuts with skins can leave them bitter-tasting.) Also, because nuts, when whole, are all shaped differently, they require a different amount of time in the oven, so only place one type of nut on a baking sheet, when toasting.
Timing is Everything
The fruit puree can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
Although the bananas must be prepared close to assembling the parfaits, the melon can be cut one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator, well covered.
The parfaits can be assembled (without the granola or nuts) up to 2 hours ahead of serving. Cover them carefully (loosely) with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If using a topping, add it just before serving.