Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Veggie Might: Sublime Fruit Salad with Mint - A Fruit Salad to Rival the Cheese Plate

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a regular Thursday feature about all things Vegetarian. It's coming a day early this week, and Wednesday's regularly scheduled article will appear on Thursday.

Fruit salad always seems like a good idea for picnics and barbecues. It’s beautiful; it’s summery; and unless it’s overrun with marshmallows and bananas (barf), it’s yummy. However, one thing you can count on when you take fruit salad to a party: you’ll be taking it right back home.

You can be assured there will be no leftover cheese, no leftover guacamole. Crudités has slightly better odds if it is accompanied by a good dip, but fruit salad…unless there is just no other food, you’ll be eating it for breakfast the next few days.

Unless you make this fruit salad: based on Giada de Laurentiis’ Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette. It is seriously the best fruit salad ever. And there is nary a marshmallow (or banana) in sight.

I’ve made this salad several times, with various fruit combinations, and it never fails to please. Last summer, I made it for my birthday beach party, and two summers ago for a bridal shower fiesta. My mother even borrowed the recipe and wowed her Bible study group.

But never has it received the laud it got at the BBQ baby shower on Saturday. (No babies were BBQ’d, only meat and veggie burgs.) This gorgeous bowl of fruit went as quickly as the cheese platter and almost as fast as the guacamole. People were begging (okay, two people asked nicely) for the leftovers, of which there were few.

Luckily, it’s so, so easy, and cheap if the fruit you choose is in season. I strayed from the recommended melons, because A) I couldn’t find a watermelon that looked good and 2) I dislike cantaloupe almost as much as bananas. You can make this with any fruit you like.

Berries are fabulously in season up NYC way. For fun and color contrast, I threw in a mango and a peach. (For the crowd, I also doubled the recipe you see below; it’s easy to scale.)

Now, Giada’s giant smile calls for 1/4 cup of simple syrup for 4 cups of fruit. Hold up, pretty lady. That’s too much sugar, and, if you ask me, why most people avoid fruit salad. I cut the amount of syrup in half, even though I upped the amount of fruit by about a cup.

Otherwise, I kept the proportions the same. I also subbed almond extract for amaretto, since I didn’t have the liqueur on hand. There is probably some reason I should not have made the substitution in equal amounts, but it worked.

It’s a truly sublime concoction. Be prepared to give out the recipe and if you want some for yourself at home, make extra. That way you can still have fruit salad for breakfast.

Sublime Fruit Salad with Mint
Adapted from Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette by Giada de Laurentiis.
Yields approx 10 1/2-cup servings

1 pt strawberries, sliced
1 pt blueberries
1 mango, peeled and cubed
1 peach, peeled and cubed
1/8 cup simple syrup (see instructions)
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp almond extract

1) Make simple syrup and chill while prepping fruit.

2) Simple syrup = 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar until dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3) Wash, peel, and chop fruit as desired.

4) In a blender, combine simple syrup, lime juice, chopped mint, and almond extract.

5) Toss syrup over fruit.

6) Chill (overnight is good) and serve. Practice saying, “thank you.” You’ll be getting lots of compliments.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
56.6 calories, .1g fat, $.60

1 pt strawberries: 98 calories, 0g fat, $1.99
1 pt blueberries: 168 calories, 0g fat, $2.50
1 mango: 87 calories, 0g fat, $.75
1 peach: 68 calories, 0g fat, $.19
1/8 cup simple syrup: 104.6 calories, 0g fat, $.07
1/4 cup lime juice: 28.5 calories, .1g fat, $.30
1/2 cup fresh mint: 40 calories, 1g fat, $.50
1/8 tsp almond extract: negligible calories and fat, $.04
Totals: 594calories, 1.1g fat, $6.34
Per Serving (Totals/10): 59.4 calories, .11g fat, $.63

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Heidi said...

This recipe looks amazing, and I'm definitely going to try it. I especially love that it sounds like it can be concocted with just about any 4 cups of in-season fruit you want. Being the master chef that you are, can you think of any fruits that should probably not be used in this recipe?

Lindsey said...

That sounds soooo delicious and I found this write-up charmingly well-written :)

Veronica said...

looks really tasty

Morta Di Fame said...

Looks so good...fruit salad is so good.

Charity said...

That's one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen.

Lucky said...

This looks really good -- thanks.

Leigh said...

Thanks y'all! I'm glad you're digging the fruit.

Heidi, I can't think of any fruit that wouldn't work - except bananas, but that's a personal preference.

CJ said...

Oh my! That looks so good, I could reach into the screen and scoop up a big bowl!

I love the touch of mint.

Todd said...

That does sound fantastic, and I'm thrilled with the decision to ditch the melons (I'm allergic). Berries and mangoes are ok, though, so I can have this!
My question, any simple syrup at all required? I would prefer to go back to amaretto (fairly sweet in its own right) instead of almond extract.

Amy B said...

The simple syrup/mint/almond extract mixture was so good I licked the food processor lid (not the blades, that might have hurt.) Now I am going to experiment with adding the simple sugar to ice tea - I better those flavors will taste great!

Alli said...

I made this for my boss's baby shower and you're right - the compliments just wouldn't stop coming!

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made it last night and it was delicious.

Matthew said...

Recipe was huge hit at a party. Local store had no blueberries, so I substituted kiwifruit, which worked out great.

Only annoying part was I told everyone the 'secret ingredient' of the almond extract for fear of someone having a tree nut allergen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I made this for an annual summer BBQ yesterday and let me tell you..step #6 came in handy as I kept getting compliments even as I was walking out the door to go home. So definitely practice your Thank Yous! Great recipe I added Kiwi as per another readers suggestion and I doubled the recipe and still used the same amount of simple syrup. It got pretty sweet towards the bottom. So I would probably cut back a bit on that syrup if you are not into sugary sweetness. As far as the high horse comment. I think we are entitled to whatever fruit we like, so no bananas (although I love them) is fine by me, your opinion. So who is really on their high horse?
People make this! It is great!

Jenny said...

Loved it! Easy to make, but very impressive! I made it for a Kentucky Derby watch party, and called it a "mint julip" fruit salad... it was a huge hit! It works with just about any fruit combination and berries.

Kim said...

I made this last night and used it as a topping for angel food cake slices. Big winner!