Friday, September 2, 2011

Mixed Fruit Salad with Basil, Lime, Mint

It's over :(  Another summer in the books.  Technically, since it's September 1st, it's not meteorological summer anymore...even though it was 96F today and might be 98F tomorrow.  That's not the fall I envision in my mind-it's filled with thoughts of grilled cider-brined pork, apples, oven-roasted squash, colorful falling leaves (which hopefully are rounded up and lit afire, love that smell, although not good for enviro), Irish pumpkin cheesecake muffins, long sleeve t-shirts, grilling when it's not 96F outside, and the always shocking start to the 6+ month hockey season.  To the rink in flip-flops and shorts never gets any easier. 

You might be familiar with what I call summer in a bowl, but this dish is close at the heels of deserving that title.  I literally did not put my bowl down, just spoon after spoon after spoon feeding my face.  I love blueberries, the savory vs. sweet enjoyment here with the herb-infused simple syrup and fresh herbs is lovely.

The inspiration for this recipe came from watching a plate of basil and berry topped pancakes be devoured at this bucolic little patio adjacent to this place. Although enjoyed with a glass of fruit juice, a fresh mojito could be employed for an adult brunch treat.  Gotta use up all the mint (and basil) anyway that has been lovingly cared for, watered and weeded all summer long.  The hardier herbs, like the rosemary, oregano, and thyme, will last through any upcoming chilly nights.  Those will also be harvested and dried in a month or so.  I don't really bother drying basil, it's just not a good taste to me.  It's much better stored as pesto in the chiller or ice box, covered with a bit of EVOO.  When the mood strikes, whip out your pesto real quick and you would be much happier with this on the menu.  Hell yes that will be a great surprise in three months to find hiding in the bottom of the freezer underneath a pile of cheese rinds.  Of parmigiano reggiano.  To put a little umami in the chicken stock, of course.   

You can use any fruit you like- never cut a mango before?  You have tangerines at the crib? Throw em in.  Some blackberries? Absolutely.  This will last in the fridge for a day, although is best day of. 

Mixed Fruit Salad with Basil, Lime, Mint
6-8 servings as side

1/2 C each water and white sugar
1/2 C basil leaves, packed
1/4 C mint leaves, packed
lime zest from a medium guy
1 large mango, cored, diced
1 pint strawberries, halved (giant ones cut into thirds)
1 pint blueberries
2 kiwi, diced
1 C champagne grapes, or regular seedless red or green grapes, halved
3 clementines, segmented, or 1 large orange, diced
10 leaves mint, torn
10 leaves basil, torn
2 TB lemon juice, bout 1 large guy

Basil and Mint Simple Syrup- combine equal parts of sugar and water, apply heat to dissolve the sugar- this may be done on the stovetop or microwave.  Add basil, mint, and lime zest, stir to combine, give a little pressure, a light muddle if you will, on the herbs to extract the essential oils.  Park in fridge to cool for at least an hour, or in a container overnight.  Strain before using. 

Salad- Add all the fruit to a large serving bowl, then add the herbs and lemon juice, stir gently to mix.  Add the chilled syrup and stir again, careful not to beat up the froot too much.  Stash in the chiller for at least 20-30 minutes before serving, mix well again before doing so.  

This can be enjoyed slightly cooler than or at room temp.  Which means take it out of the fridge when ready to eat, then go outdoors, find a comfortable place to sit, and just try to put the spoon down before it's gone. 


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