Easy Elegance for Picnics and Get-Togethers
If you are figuring out a fast, easy dish for any gathering, from a summer picnic to an elegant dinner party, fruit salad is your solution. Colorful fruit salad is gorgeous and tempting, bringing an orchard to your kitchen.
You don’t even need a recipe for fruit salad. You can make it on a moment’s notice, assuming you keep lots of fruit in your house. Hopefully you do this anyway, since fruit is a pillar of a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet.
Fruit salad is the ultimate in uncooking. You can even let young children help assemble it. In fact, letting kids have fun in making meals with healthy foods is one of the best ways to get them launched on lifelong wise eating choices.
Here are some hints to making your fruit salad memorable and irresistible.
Enjoy your fruit salad outdoors on a picnic blanket in a green space, at the beach, or in a sunny nook in your house. Appreciate all that nature put into the fruit – the soil, sun, pollinators. Smile at nature’s greatest bounty.
Include a range of colors for visual appeal. The fruit salad will also be more interesting if you use a range of shapes. For example, you can slice strawberries, leave blueberries whole as small round shapes, have cantaloupe scooped out in large round balls, and cut watermelon into cubes.
Present the fruit salad in a glass bowl, so all the colors and shapes hit the eyes of the eaters, adds even more visual appeal. As an alternative, put the salad in a
hollow melon shell.
Fruit salad is only as good as the fruit you put into it. Use flavorful fruit, which may mean buying it at a farmers market or natural food store. If you buy in a supermarket, see if they indicate whether the fruit is local. Or try growing your own. Fruit that is picked unripe, grown with commercial methods, and shipped long distances may, unfortunately, lacks both flavor and texture.
Use seasonal ingredients. This is easiest in summer, with its abundance of berries, melons, grapes, peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines, apricots, and more. If the seasonal offerings are sparse, you can use frozen or dried fruit to add variety to your fruit salad.
Fruit is naturally sweet, so you really don’t need to add sugar or other sweetener to your dish. However, you might want to experiment with other flavors for a unique taste. For example, sprinkle the fruit salad with nuts, toasted sesame seeds, chopped mint leaves, lemon or orange zest or juice, or dark chocolate shavings. Try a shake of cinnamon, a drop of flavor extract (such as vanilla or coconut), or a dash of cayenne or hot sauce. Make your own fruit sauce, or experiment with soy yogurt, sorbet, or a few spoonfuls of dairy-free frozen desserts as toppings (right when you are going to serve it). The trick is to keep these flavorings or toppings to a minimum, enhancing your fruit salad, not overwhelming the natural flavors of the ingredients. So start with a small amount and carefully add more as you taste the result.
Eat your fruit salad within a day or two of making it. Cut up fruit can lose its flavor and start looking unappealing if you wait longer than that. Keep
the fruit salad chilled as long as you can, and put into a cooler if bringing to a picnic.
You will be serving up a dish that is delicious, appealing, and healthy, more colorful than fireworks, pleasing your friends.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This easy-to-follow eating plan is built on a whole foods, plant-based diet that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease. Janice’s entire refrigerator is so stuffed with colorful produce that it looks like a giant fruit salad.