Fruit salad. So easy to make, anyone can make it. Right?
Well yes, I suppose so. You can just cut up a bunch of fruit and mix it together in a bowl.
And maybe add a bit of sugar to help bring out some of the fruit juices.
And you end up with … a bunch of cut up fruit in a bowl. And before I go on, let me just say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bunch of cut up fruit in a bowl, especially if it’s seasonal fruit at its peak of ripeness. A bowl of strawberries in June, with just the tiniest bit of sugar can be perfection. Or sticky alphonso or honey mangos that need nothing more than a fork to spear the luscious chunks with. I’m almost salivating just thinking about it.
But let’s face it, it’s February in Britain and there’s bugger all in terms of seasonal fruit at the moment. Apples, oranges and bananas have become incredibly boring, and berry, mango, peach, plum, cherry, (fill in blank) season still seems years away.
So what’s the solution to this fruity hungry gap? Fruit salad. Not cut up fruit in a bowl, but fruit salad. A mix of dried and fresh fruits that may or may not be at their peak, brought together with a vanilla bean infused sugar syrup. That, to me, is fruit salad.
I have a little story to tell you about my fruit salad. Last year we catered a 2 day event (breakfast, lunch & afternoon tea) that was attended by one rather famous person. And before you ask, I can’t tell you who it was because I signed a confidentiality agreement. Oh well. But I can tell you that on day 1 this person remarked (in a most positive fashion) on the fruit salad we’d served as part of breakfast and asked if we’d be having it the next day. Well we were going to be having it the next day, but because (blank) had mentioned it I went back to the kitchen that evening and made extra. And good thing I did because on day 2, said famous person ate bowls and bowls of the stuff! Seriously, one of the team refilled this person’s bowl every half hour or so throughout the day.
I’m still quite pleased that (blank) liked my fruit salad. But if I may say so, it was good. So what’s the secret? It’s the vanilla bean sugar syrup (a light concentration). The syrup of course diminishes the healthy factor, but given that the dish is mostly made up of fruit, it’s still way more healthy than say a cream puff, or cheesecake, or chocolate cake. The taste of vanilla is there in every bite. Not too overpowering, but there nonetheless. Hydrating a bit of dried fruit in the still hot syrup makes it luscious and plump and brings extra flavours and textures into the salad. And the sugar syrup ties everything together and enhances fruit that, let’s face it, is not overly inspiring at this time of year (in this part of the world).
I like it best for breakfast, with thick Greek yogurt and crunchy muesli. Or with a bit of vanilla ice cream or a shortbread for dessert. Or just a bowl of it on its own when dinner is still hours away. I just like it. As does the man. The girl mostly likes the mango and blueberries and would rather leave the other bits in her bowl. The boy is going through a purist phase and doesn’t like mixing different fruits together. So he won’t touch it. His loss, our gain.
Try this. It will brighten up your day.