Friday, August 3, 2012

A Perfect Summer Fruit Salad (Honey Lime Tropical Fruit Salad)


I have been really enjoying a new cooking show that recently started airing on the Food Network, Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen. Jamie comes across as very approachable and his recipes all seem to be the sort of dishes that are perfect for an ordinary small family. Nothing is too fussy or indulgent, and the ingredients are all pretty basic. I really hope this show sticks around, as it is one of the few that I feel I can truly relate to.

As soon as I saw Jamie present this salad, I knew I had to run right out to buy the ingredients. All of the fruits are fresh and perfect for a summer meal - fresh chunks of pineapple, bright green slices of kiwifruit, plump seedless purple grapes, and slices of juicy mango and bananas. The dressing is a simple blend of lime juice, honey, and fresh mint - light, citrusy, with just enough sweet and tang to bring out the natural flavors of the fruit. The salad is topped with a sprinkle of toasted shredded coconut, giving it nice texture. If you aren't a coconut fan, you could use some granola or chopped nuts or just leave the salad as is.

I could not stop eating this, and once the first bowl was gone, I made a second batch the next night and called up my mom to tell her to make it right away. This is also wonderful served with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top as a light breakfast or dessert.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing, adapted from a version shown on Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen

for the Salad:
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks (please don't use canned)
2-3 kiwifruits, peeled, sliced thinly
1 handful seedless Concord grapes (or any seedless grape - the darker color really makes the salad look pretty)
1 mango, peeled, sliced
1 large banana, peeled, sliced
1/2-3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted lightly and cooled

for the honey lime dressing:
2 Tbsp honey, or to taste
1 large lime, juice and zest of
2-3 Tbsp fresh mint, thinly sliced into strips

To toast the coconut, spread the shredded coconut onto a small baking sheet in an even, flat layer and pop into a preheated 350 F oven for just a couple of minutes. Don't go walking away to chop fruit or wash dishes or something - coconut burns very easily!  When it is ready, you will detect the slightest hint of coconut aroma and the edges of some of the pieces will only just be starting to turn golden;  most will still be pure white. For me, this took about 2-3 minutes. Pull the tray out of the oven and let the coconut cool fully on the baking sheet. Store in a covered jar.

Mix together the fresh fruit in a medium bowl. Whisk together the dressing and toss with the fruit.  Taste and adjust the dressing flavors - I added a bit more lime juice and went heavier on the mint.  Serve immediately, sprinkling the toasted coconut on individual servings to taste.

*NOTE: To cut the mint into thin "chiffonade"strips, pull off the leaves from their stems and make a small stack. Roll up the leaf stack tightly, then cut the ends off into tiny coils. When you unwind the coils, you will have thin strips of mint.

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