Why can’t bodegas ever make a good fruit salad? I won’t name names but yesterday I ordered a fruit salad from my local bagel shop/bodega. Now this store does a phenomenal job on bagels and offers quality sandwiches, soups and salads. There’s always a long line to get to the counter and generally everything’s quite good until yesterday when I ordered their fruit salad. From past experience at similar establishments I’ve learned to avoid fruit salads.
Normally, I know better but yesterday I was lured in by those pithy chucks of melon because I wanted something light and fresh to accompany the mac & cheese with greens leftovers that I’ve been having for lunch for the past three days (by the way its still delicious and reheats wonderfully). Three days in and I still love it.
As I see it, the main problem with commercially produced fruit salad is that the honeydew and cantaloupe, which comprise 80% of the salad, are never ripe. They’re so far from being ripe that they’re crunchy and flavorless. The two slices of strawberry and three blueberries that round out the salad just can’t compete against that much bland melon. The other problem is that the chunks of fruit are too big so you can only savior one tasteless piece on melon at a time.
The thing that really kills me is that fruit salad can be so awesome if you just use ripe fruit and if you’re really going all out chop the fruit into small chucks so that with every forkful you taste a medley of the salad’s flavors. Even if it was just made of melon, it would have been fine if the fruit had been ripe. So for the last day of my leftover mac & cheese with greens I decided to make my own fruit salad.
The key thing here, and I know I’ve already beaten this point to death but I can’t help myself, is to use ripe fruit. Luckily, there’s another bodega nearby that has a great fruit section (oddly enough their fruit salad looks pretty bad too) and I was able to find a ripe pineapple and mango. If you don’t have a good place for fruit, you just need to plan ahead and allow your fruit a few days to ripen.
Lastly, there are innumerable combinations of fruits that complement each other so you can mix and match. Fruit salad is a forgiving medium as long as you use the fruit that’s in season. Right now champagne mangos are in season. When I lived in Thailand where I could get ripe juicy mangos all year long I ate two mangos for breakfast everyday for a year. I have such a huge crush on mangos. Yum!
Basil and red bell pepper make this fruit salad interesting by bringing in a savory element. The ginger adds sweetness and heat. The sesame seeds are totally optional but if you have them, black sesame seeds make the whole thing look sophisticated.
Pineapple and Mango Fruit Salad (serves 4-6)
(Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 25 minutes)
- half of 1 pineapple, diced
- 1 mango, diced
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon finely minced candied ginger (I love ginger so I added more)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
Mix lime juice and honey. Add all the other ingredients into large bowl; stir to combine. Pour the honey and lime mixture over the fruit, stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Divide fruit mixture among wine glasses and serve.
*This would be great as part of Easter breakfast or any special brunch. Also it would make a refreshing dessert after a heavy meal.
-The Pineapple and Mango Fruit Salad recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011