At a recent breakfast meeting I hosted, I was asked how I had made the fruit salad I served. There were flavors guests just couldn’t put their fingers on but raved about. Recipes for my fuit salads are often requested and the truth is I just create them as I go. I can, however, share my method. I always strive for something unexpected and not the “same old same old” fruit salad that turns up on most buffet tables. I think it is important to select fruit that is seasonal when possible and think of the colors and textures of the fruit in the salad. Avoid the usual strawberries when they are pale, cardboard like and tasteless. The plethora of fruit combinations is endless. This salad showcased ripe Bosc pears, papaya, seedless Concord grapes, clementines, mango, kiwi, raspberries, pomegranate seeds and mint from my garden. By describing how I made it, you can adapt my secrets to your own creation.
I chose a pretty bowl, a wide turquoise earthenware beauty, unexpected, with a rustic feel for a fall buffet table. The blue was a nice complement to the fruit colors and the wide mouth showcased a lot of the beautiful fruit. It also prevented the fruit from being bruised by being layered too deeply.
I built the salad in layers, directly in the serving bowl, with sturdier fruit on the bottom. I planned for at least one layer of each fruit. For this salad I started with a layer of cubed mango, about 2 cups. The mango was frozen and thawed, as the fresh mango was not ripe. Two thirds of a whole papaya, cubed, was added next. Then came 5 clementine oranges divided in segments. Concord grapes, a fall favorite, were scattered over the oranges and provided deep blue color and lots of seasonal flavor. Two kiwis, cut in bite size pieces were placed over the oranges. At this point I stored the salad overnight as all this fruit would hold up well and I didn’t want to have to make the whole salad first thing in the morning. Aren’t those colors just gorgeous?
In the morning, I grated the zest of 1 lime over the chilled fruit salad for a nice burst of flavor. 2 Bosc pears, ripe but firm, in seasonal peak, were cut in 1/2 inch chunks, peel on, and scattered over the lime zest. I then squeezed the juice of half a navel orange over the pears, right in the bowl, to keep them from browning. Orange juice is less acidic than lemon juice. Over the pears I also drizzled about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. You could use a liqueur, agave or honey. I gave the salad a very gentle toss at this point, the only tossing it would get. For the final layer, I scattered a 6 oz package of raspberries, the seeds of half a pomegranate and 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut, as a topping. Tossing the berries would crush them. With the berries and pomegranate on top, this salad shined with the jewel colors of sapphire, emerald and rubies. Gorgeous! You could layer individual servings of fruit salad in a pretty glass tumbler for a variation.
There you have it, my fruit salad secrets. Delicious, colorful, with complex layers of seasonal flavor, lots of texture and nary a bland strawberry in site!