Beat the Heat, with Cool Fruit Sweet!
By Mark Mulcahy
Since it’s July, I’m sure we’ve all begun to enjoy the amazing selection of Melissa’s organic summer fruit that has been showing up in our favorite store. Plums, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Melons, Berries - all are at their peak flavor. And with the weather getting hot, no matter where you live, July may be the best time to get into your fruit salad groove. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, snack time, or even dinner on those too-hot-to-eat evenings that summer can bring.
Though simple to make, there are some rules to making a perfect Melissa’s organic fruit salad that will help you enjoy it even more.
Design for the Time
It’s easy to fall into old habits when making fruit salad - like adding oranges and pineapple to your salad because your Grandma Theresa or Aunt Jeri did. That would be fine for a winter or early spring salad, but it’s summertime and your best flavor will come from the peak season Melissa’s organic fruits that are in your produce department now, like the ones I mentioned above.
Say no to “Just one more thing...”
You know how it goes when you are shopping - you see Melissa’s organic peaches and nectarines so you grab them for your salad, Then you pass delectable Organic Honeydew Melons and the smell alone draws you closer, so you put a melon in the cart...then you hear the black, blue and raspberries calling so in go 3 packages of those. And oh, you love apricots, so you can’t resist and the cart gets more and more full - along with your salad ingredient list. While they all are tasty and colorful, too many items in a salad can overwhelm your taste buds in a blend of syrupy sweetness.
The best fruit salads are the simplest. Think about how things work together, and try to keep it to no more than 5 items. Let the flavors of those fruits complement each other and shine for what they each bring to your palate.
Let berries be
It’s true that berries add nice color to a salad and they do taste wonderful - but with the exception of blueberries, they tend to break down quickly and can turn part of your summer salad to mush. A simple dish of berries cut fresh and served right away or added to your morning cereal is a better way to go.
If you just have to put berries in your masterpiece, add them just before you serve and they will provide the complement you were looking for without compromising the texture.
Full flavor factor
Fruit salad is one dish that is best made fresh! While it may be tempting to cut the fruit ahead of time and pop it in the fridge, it may not be the best choice, as cut and chilled fruit can quickly lose a lot of its flavor. A perfect fruit salad is made right before you eat it. Why? Because fruit develops its full flavor potential at room temperature. In the summertime, it's fine to serve the salad slightly chilled for food safety - but if you store it in the fridge, be sure to take it out at least 30 minutes prior to serving it.
Dress for success
Your fruit salad dressing should be simple, light and slightly sweet to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit. Mix a little lemon juice and honey and you’ll be just fine.
All this talk of fruit salad got me thinking about combining one of my favorite cooking methods and the bountiful goodness of Melissa’s organic summer fruit, so I adapted this recipe from simplebites.net and found a new summer favorite.
Grilled Fruit Salad
Choose an assortment of your favorite Melissa’s organic fresh summer fruit: peaches, plums, pineapples, mangoes, or pears are a good place to start, but with Melissa’s offerings changing throughout the summer, don’t be afraid to mix and match what’s in season.
You’ll also need the following:
Vanilla Sugar or Honey, to taste
I tried this in the morning and topped my pancakes with it, and also tried it as a dessert with vanilla ice cream. Oh my! I mean Oh My! I’m definitely hooked, and you will be too!
- Preheat grill to 400°F.
- Wash fruit and prep for grill. Cut stone fruit into quarters, and pineapple into wedges.
- Toss fruit in a teaspoon or so of olive oil (walnut oil also adds a nice nuttiness to the fruit) and place on the grill.
- Grill 4-5 minutes per side, or until grill marks show.
- Remove from grill onto a cutting board. Chop fruit into large chunks and add to a bowl.
- Squeeze lime juice over fruit and add zest. Sprinkle vanilla sugar or drizzle honey over fruit. I added a sprinkle of cinnamon too and it added a really nice touch!
- Toss gently and serve at once.
I’m sure you’ll come up with your own favorite way to enjoy the luscious flavors of your warm grilled fruit - just make a lot because it will definitely draw a crowd.