Summer Organic Fruit Salad
By Mark Mulcahy
Less is so Much More
It being June, we've all been starting to enjoy the fantastic selection of Melissa's organic summer fruit that has been showing up in our favorite stores; plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, melons, berries, all at their peak flavor. And, with the weather getting hot no matter where you live, June may be the perfect time to get into your fruit salad groove. It's perfect for breakfast, lunch, snacks or even dinner on those just 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 times.
It's easy to fall into old habits when making fruit salad, like adding oranges and pineapple because your Mom or Aunt Mabel did. And 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 fruits that are in your produce department, like the ones I mentioned from Melissa's.
Just say no to one more ingredient.
You know how it goes when you're shopping … first, you see peaches and nectarines, so you grab them for your salad. Then, you pass by some delectable honeydew melons, and the smell alone draws you closer. You place a melon in the cart, and then you hear the blackberries, blueberries and raspberries calling, so in go three packages of those. Oh, you love apricots, so you can't resist, and the cart gets fuller along with the salad ingredient list. While they are all tasty and colorful, too many items in a salad can overwhelm your taste buds, and the flavors can turn into a blend of syrupy sweetness. The best fruit salads are the simplest; think about how things work together and keep it to no more than five items. Let the flavors of those fruits complement one another and shine for what they each bring to your palate.
Berries like to be left alone.
Yes, berries taste lovely and can add color to a salad, 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 serving. They'll provide the color and flavor you were looking for and not compromise the texture.
The 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; cut and chilled fruit can quickly lose a lot of its flavor. A perfect fruit salad is made right before you eat it. Why? Fruit develops its full flavor potential at room temperature. In the summertime, it's OK 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 before serving.
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 fruit: peaches, plums, pineapples, mango … pears are an excellent place to start, but with Melissa's offerings changing throughout the summer, don't be afraid to mix and match what's in season.
Preheat grill to 400°F.
Wash fruit and prep for the grill; cut stone fruit into quarters and pineapple into wedges.
Toss fruit in one teaspoon or so olive or walnut oil; walnut adds a nice nuttiness to the fruit.
Place fruit on the grill and cook 4 to 5 minutes per side or until grill marks show.
Transfer grilled fruit onto a cutting board and chop into large, rustic chunks, then add to a bowl.
Squeeze lime juice over fruit and add zest. Sprinkle vanilla sugar or drizzle honey over the fruit. I added a sprinkle of cinnamon, and it added a nice touch!
Toss gently and serve immediately.
I tried this recipe in the morning and topped my pancakes with the fruit salad. I also tried it as a dessert with homemade lemon sorbet — Oh, my! I'm hooked, and you will be too!
I'm sure you'll come up with your favorite way to enjoy the luscious flavors of your warm grilled fruit, just be sure to make a lot because it will draw a crowd.