Is it me or are there times when you simply don't feel like cooking? Or your stomach 'feels' like eating something light? I've experienced such moment countable times, especially when the day was long and tiring or something unpleasant happened. In such times, the best thing I've learnt to do is to come up with a go-to fruit platter that I can adjust depending on the fruits in season. Speaking of fruits in season, Avocados are back! Woop Woop!
The most amazing thing about living in a tropical country is that we always have fruits all year round and I recently discovered that the end of Mango season in Kenya ushers in the beginning of Mango season in parts of Uganda! I'm now really envious of my relatives in Uganda. But oh well, we've got to wait till sometime in October for Apple-Mango season!
Back to the simple fruit platter. There are a number of things that make or break a fruit platter and I'd like to share these 'secrets' with you:
I love a contrast of colours in the foods I prepare. It helps bring life to food and makes it more enticing to eat. The yellow from the mango and orange from a pawpaw give a really nice contrast to the green from avocados or purple of grapes. These are perfect on a canvas of a neutral colour from the bananas, which are always available year round. The colour combination of fruits can either make the fruit platter or break it.
Even though pawpaws and avocados look amazing, if you get some that are extremely ripe, your plater will transform into mush that will lack eye-appeal. Always ensure that your fruits are just ripe.
A crunch in a fruit salad is reminiscent of a macaron, crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. The play in textures within the mouth makes having fruits more exciting! I enjoy a good crunch not only in my cereals but also in my fruit salads. Apples and beetroots give a good crunch to a fruit salad. You may say that beets aren't fruits but I love the colour and crunch they add to salads and I like how I can use them in both fruit and vegetable-based salads. They make life easier :-)! Don't worry if you don't like the earthy taste from beets because the taste is diluted by the other blend of flavours.
Adding nuts to fruit salads also brings about a departure from the sweetness of fruits and adds an amazing crunch. I like the creaminess of cashew nuts and the hardness of macadamia nuts and when I want to throw in a wildcard to my fruit salads, I add just a few of those nuts into the mix.
Flavour is everything in a good fruit salad. It's not enough to simply have a sweet taste and a crunch. You need something that brings a slight zing to your mouth. My husband loves tarty tastes and I enjoy sweet tastes and we strike this balance by adding passion fruits (when in season) or squeezing a bit of lemon into the fruits. A little goes a long way and I strive to bring balance to my fruits.
By the way, I do enjoy slightly ripe mangoes with a bit of salt and chilli. The contrast in flavour is just sublime! God bless you whoever came up with this delicacy. Really looking forward to Mango season!!
Not all fruits were created equally and at times, you might get a hold of a really sour mango or a very tangy pineapple. Tarty tastes in fruits can be enjoyed by adding a bit of sweetness, please don't throw away your tarty fruits. You can add sultanas or dates to your salad to give them some sweetness.
Yes, the tarty taste will not completely disappear, but it will blend very well with the sweetness of the sultanas and dates. If you don't have those around, you can rub a bit of sugar and cinnamon to your apples before you add them to your salad. I tried it out with icing sugar and it was really nice. I liked how the sugar dissolved into the liquid of the apples.
You could also try cooking pineapples with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. When I say cooking I mean that you can slightly braise them on a hot skillet. You can do the same with mangoes with cardamom and sugar. I'll share how to do this in a different post :-)!
Fun fact: Icing sugar isn't as sweet as normal sugar and you can use it to make amazing pastries with fruits!
The child in me really enjoys eating fruits that have got different shapes and that are of different sizes. It makes life really exciting and stretches my creative side in ways I never thought imaginable! It's something most people don't think much about but it does make a big difference to the outcome of a fruit salad.
Every thought of cutting your mango into thin long strips? How about circles for apples and small cubes for pineapples? How about large wheels for bananas? It doesn't have to be a hard task, you can make it as simple and as creative as you desire it to be.
Hope these pointers will help you make an enjoyable fruit salad that you and your family can enjoy!