It’s almost Mother’s Day and Mom deserves a bit of exotic, don’t you think? This is a perfect breakfast-in-bed recipe and is really good fruit salad. I’m talking homemade, not the nonsense in the in the produce department of your local supermarket. But, once again, if the fruit isn’t ripe and juicy, then the fruit salad will fall flat…but maybe not too flat…there are tricks! I don’t have a nice picture of this in a pretty, crystal dish, all garnished up with a sprig of something green. We took this to Philadelphia in little styrofoam containers…”have fruit salad will travel!” So, you’ll have to bear with me and use your imaginations.
I change the fruit for fruit salad, and truly I shouldn’t call this fruit “salad”. I don’t usually serve this as a salad course. It’s more of a side or dessert or pick-me-up, really. I made this most recent version using pineapple, mangoes; pineapple is pretty much a year-round thing now and the mangoes have been wonderful lately. There are strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries…oh, yes. I threw in a couple of nice red plums, too. Then, at the very end, I added diced frozen peach slices. Some frozen fruits (peaches, mangoes, pineapple), when it’s off-season, work great in this sort of mixture. You keep all the pieces of fruit about the same size, toss them all together and then taste. If it seems a bit on the sharp side, drizzle on a bit of honey or maple syrup…not much, just a bit. If too sweet, add a nice squeeze of lemon (Meyer lemon adds a love exotic nuance), and always a little pinch of salt. A small amount of salt sharpens flavors, but you won’t find the mixture salty at all.
Exotic Fruit Salad
- 1 ripe, but still slightly firm mango, flesh removed from the pit and diced
- 1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
- 1 cup quartered strawberries
- 1 cup blueberries (you can go with 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 ripe red plum, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup frozen peach slices, cut into bite-sized pieces (use fresh when in season)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- pinch of kosher salt
- 3-4 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 1-2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- pinch of ground allspice
- 2-3 tablespoons mango/orange flavored rum (optional)
- 1 teaspoon extremely finely minced fresh mint leaves (basil is good, too)
- 3-4 teaspoons honey or maple syrup (optional)
Combine all the fruit, except the raspberries, in a large bowl. Toss the mixture together to combine. Sprinkle with the salt, orange juice concentrate, white balsamic, zest, allspice, rum, if using and the mint. Taste the mixture. If you feel you’d like it to be a tad sweeter, add some of the honey. Toss again; cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Just before serving, toss and sprinkle the raspberries over or layer them in the serving bowl when pouring the fruit. You don’t want to crush them. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, if desired. Serve chilled. This is beautiful served in a cut-glass bowl.
Exotic Fruit Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
It’s the balsamic, along with the frozen orange juice, that makes this salad sparkle. You can take those supermarket “cardboard” strawberries that always look so go, add a drizzle of balsamic, a little bit of sugar or honey and a drizzle of frozen orange juice concentrate, toss the strawberries and let them sit in the fridge for half an hour and honestly, they’re decent. Once again, this is proof that balsamic should be a food group! No, they aren’t like fresh-picked, but it does improve the flavor significantly. I’ve even been known to add 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry flavored gelatin. Don’t turn your nose up…you’d be surprised what that little bit can do to a container of strawberries.
I’ve tried adding cinnamon, but the allspice is better and more interesting. The allspice and mint are just barely there; really just a breath of flavor. You can see the little bit of allspice on the strawberries, can’t you? You may add some lemon or lime zest if you wish, as well as putting in some orange sections, too. I usually use at least a little bit of honey. I think it adds depth to the flavor.
In winter, add pomegranate seeds, pineapple, citrus, kiwi, apples, etc. In summer, I use cantaloupe, peaches, nectarines, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, poached rhubarb, etc. Sometimes, I just use 2 or 3 fruits, but you want this mixture cold. It’s much more refreshing, particularly in summer. By the way, if you wish to include sliced bananas, place them in the bottom of your work bowl, and drizzle with the frozen orange juice concentrate, toss and continue. If I’m not serving this within an hour, I add the banana slices with the raspberries, so they won’t discolor.
Speaking of bananas, with summer around the corner and kids wanting popsicles, halved bananas (with the stick inserted in the center) dipped briefly in orange juice, placed on a cookies sheet and frozen are great. Loaded with nutrients, cold and will stave off hunger until dinner time.
This makes a very nice dessert with a dollop of whipped cream, mascarpone with lemon or a dip of vanilla ice cream…this is a perfect way to say, “I love you” to Mom, too! And reasonably small children can wash fruit and if they have a very sharp, small knife, they cut the fruit up. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone…Enjoy!