Sensational, seasonal, and dripping with flavour
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Think fruit salads are just a bunch of cut-up fruits in a bowl? Think again! These spruced up fruit-heavy salads are perfect when Mother Nature starts bringing the heat.
The dog days of summer are all about kicking back and luxuriating in the bounty of sun-kissed foods available for the picking from backyard gardens and bustling outdoor markets. And nothing screams flip-flop season nourishment more than digging into a bowl of ultra-sweet fruit salad—a favourite seasonal treat among the young and the young at heart. It’s the perfect way to beat the heat, boost your intake of health-hiking antioxidants, and also keep hydrated. Too often, though, we’re served up fruit salads that consist of little more than a bunch of chopped fruit doused in overly saccharine syrup. Not bad, but not great, either. That’s why it’s time to recreate and modernize the often underwhelming fruit salad into something more drool-worthy. To do so, we’re here to emphatically say that, yes, fruit salads should contain fruit, but they need not be just about, well, fruits. Everything from veggies and whole grains to cheese and fish can accompany the fruit. With these innovative additions, you’ll avoid the dreaded one-flavour-note dish and create an inspiring salad that is sure to bowl over tasters. These freshened up, fruit-forward sweet and savoury salads are just what you’ll crave as temperatures soar.
Don’t overlook the fact that fruits can contribute to your heightened water needs during the sultry months of beach season. Cantaloupe, for instance, is about 90 percent water, so it tastes great and also hydrates.
A fruit salad a day can help keep the doctor at bay. A 2016 study in the New England Journal of Medicine determined an inverse relationship between fruit consumption and the risk of heart disease.
There were particular benefits in lowering blood pressure and blood sugar numbers. And eating your fill of hazardously juicy peaches can help keep you on good terms with the scale: research shows that people who eat more fruits are less likely to gain unwanted body weight.
To sidestep so-so fruit salads, keep these tips in mind to step up your game and give even the best of potato salads a run for their money.
When turning to raw fruits for your salad, it’s crucial that they’re at peak ripeness. For good reason, balls of underripe melon are usually picked over. Also, when fruit is at its flavour peak, there’ll be less need to enhance it with added sweeteners.
When markets are bursting at the seams with so many delicious-looking fruits, it’s tempting to toss them all in a bowl together and enjoy the bounty. The truth is, though, a great fruit salad is best served without so many main players.
The key is to pick just a few that work really well together. Too many fruits commingling in your bowl can just end up tasting generically “fruity.” Instead, choose flavours of just a few stars that go together well. A good rule of thumb: if the fruits taste great together in a smoothie, they’ll shine in a salad too.
Think beyond just fruit and sweetener for your salads. You want to create a dish that is an amalgam of textures and tastes. Nuts and seeds can add welcoming crunch, citrus zest will provide brightness, and herbs like basil and mint will offer up an unexpectedly complex flavour twist. Even dairy such as cheese and yogurt can come to the party and rescue a salad from boredom. There’s a reason why watermelon and feta have become a classic dynamic duo.
A little salt sprinkled into a salad can actually accentuate the sweetness of fruit. And a hit of acid from citrus juice or vinegar can round out a dish beautifully.
With the addition of some grilled meats, legumes, whole grains, and/or cheese, fruit salad has the power to become a sensational summer meal.