By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef
Summer celebrations are not just limited to you and all your relaxation-seeking friends. Nature is celebrating, too, as shown by its copious fruit harvest. Walk into any market right now and you'll see an endless supply of ripe peaches, juicy berries and heavy melons…I dare you to leave without at least a couple unplanned fresh fruits in your cart!
Of course, one of the greatest pleasures of this premium produce season is a simple fruit salad – the perfect breakfast, snack or barbecue side. While once upon a time fruit salads had a rather sad reputation in the potluck world, those days of boring apple-banana-grape medleys are long gone. Here are six ways to make your fruit salad a prizewinning endeavor, worthy of your next breaktime favorite or delicious make-ahead dessert.
1. Think Outside the Box
Your fruit salad called and it wants those exotic fruits back! If you've ever been at a market and wondered how to use a special variety of fruit – from jujubes to pitaya – this is the time to use them! It's actually rather difficult to pick a “bad” fruit combination. Just find a couple of basic fruits you enjoy, such as peaches, pineapple and strawberries, and add something fun that you've wanted to try, like crunchy carambola (starfruit) or pink lemonade blueberries. This will make your salad both beautiful to look at and fun to eat!
2. Incorporate Superfoods
Adding at least one superfood to the mix is easier than you may think, as many superfoods are in the berry category. If you can find things like fresh goji berries or goldenberries, by all means, use them. But if not (or if they're understandably too costly), don't be afraid to use them in their budget-friendly sun-dried form. In fact, a fruit salad that's made with a little dried fruit can be a dramatic display of sweetness and varied texture, as the dried components will soak up excess juices from the fresh fruits and swell with sweet intensity. Plus, all those bonus micronutrients from the superfruits are a major win.
3. Express with Flavor
Although fruit is generally flavorful on its own, there are many ways to add additional flair. A little vanilla extract, for example, goes a long way to meld flavors together. Similarly, a bit of fresh citrus zest or even a touch of spice like cinnamon or cayenne can add unexpectedly delicious flavor notes.
4. Mix in Some Crunch
Nowhere in the fruit salad rule book does it say that this kind of recipe needs to be expressly fruit! Adding in some seeds like hemp seeds or chia seeds, or chopped nuts like walnuts or almonds goes a long way to add some textural interest. Some mild vegetables can even work as well, such as cabbage, fennel and celery.
5. Play with Color
While it's tempting to mix together the rainbow, you can also make a beautiful plate by sticking to a color theme. Showcasing various hues of purples and reds or yellows and oranges, for example, can create a fruit salad that looks both culinarily refined as well as aesthetically tempting. You can also get extra creative by dying light-colored fruits with antioxidant-rich superfood powders, such as maqui powder or goji powder to make them really pop.
6. Boost with a Secret Last Touch
The last touch before mixing a fruit salad all together is every chef's secret…and it may not be what you'd expect. Rather than adding sugar, the secret is to add a little salt and acid! A pinch of salt and/or a squeeze of lemon, lime or even a little bit of vinegar, go a long way to make your beautiful sweet fruits really sing and dance with flavor.