minty-zesty strawberry salad

I used to think fruit salad was a little boring.

does this look boring??

It’s hard to get a variety of fruit with complementary textures and flavors and avoid that unpleasant tart, crunchy bite. But here it is! The winner! I talked about it in a previous post, but perfected the essence to something out of this world.

Lime zest. That’s the secret. Lots of it. Just one more use for the microplane sitting in your odd-utensil drawer. (Should you be in the misfortunate position of missing a microplane, remedy this asap…) Here’s the trick for flavorful, juicy citrus:

Roll your fruit. Not your watermelons and strawberries. I’m talking about limes and oranges and lemons. If you’re including the citrus skin in your dish (and it wouldn’t hurt to put some aside), zest it before slicing the fruit open. This releases the oil into the skin.

Press on the fruit firmly with your palm and roll it back and forth on your cutting board. You’ll feel the fruit soften after a few rolls, you’ll be able to squeeze it easier, and the juice will just pour out upon slicing it open.

In this salad, I used ripe strawberries, pineapple, and champagne mango, diced in about 1″ pieces. I personally enjoy being able to get a few pieces in one forkful, especially when it’s all so scrumptious together. After dicing the fruit, zest an entire lime into your fruit. And then squeeze half the juice into the fruit salad. It sounds like a lot of lime, but it’s just a fantastic combination, you can’t have too much lime. Even better is adding some ribbons of fresh mint.

Roll the leaves tightly and make thin slices. That’s all there is too it. Add as much mint as your like. Since you won’t be using an entire bunch, here’s a great opportunity to mention a reliable storing method to keep your herbs and greens fresh. You can use this for fresh herbs or lettuce; it’s great to keep salad greens fresh for a week in your fridge.

Wash your greens and dry them well (in a salad spinner or pat them with a clean cloth).

Then wrap them loosely in a slightly damp paper towel and seal–whether in a plastic bag or storage container. You’ll be surprised how much longer greens stay fresh this way vs. sitting in a murky plastic bag getting soggy and brown…

If you’re serving this to guests or making it ahead and concerned about presentation (just in case you also have special affection for pretty food), keep the cut strawberries aside to prevent them from coloring your beautiful yellow fruits .

This is delicious and beautiful for a party (or, say, brunch with friends). It’s also fantastic with fresh ricotta or a little plain yogurt on the side. Whipped cream, if you’re feeling decadent.

Let me know what new fruit combinations you concoct! Use this idea with orange or lemon zest, or even a combination. Citrus zest brightens any dish in color and flavor. Lemon zest adds excitement to chicken or seafood or pasta dishes; orange and lemon zest together are fantastic on roasted green beans—just experiment!

UPDATE: Thanks to my dear Lynette who reminded me to mention a key note of zesting technique! Be sure to only grate each part of the lime once. Grating beyond the initial colored skin will get the bitter, and I mean ruin-your-relish, white pith around the membrane right into your sweet dish. So, rotate your fruit as you zest, careful not to grate too deep into the fruit. All much simpler than it sounds 🙂

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4 Comments

Filed under lickety-quick, small bites, techniques

4 responses to “minty-zesty strawberry salad

  1. Lynette

    This is just so pretty and springy. Can’t wait to try it. I do have one hint – when using the microplaner be sure to not get any white pith (yes I said pith) as it can be very bitter and absolutely ruin a dish. I usually just do one swipe of rind and then rotate fruit to be safe. As always, I anxiously await your posts!!!

  2. OOOOOOOOOh, yes, meant to mention the pith!!!Thank you Lynette, I’m going to edit this : )

    love to you!!!

  3. Alice

    Having sampled your delicious fruit salad with lime zest, I can attest to how wonderful this is. I now can’t imagine eating my fruit without lime zest. But, I did think of another use for those rolled limes–Corona. Wouldn’t the Corona drinkers love to know the secret of getting a zestier lime in their beer? I’ll pass this on to my favorite Corona drinker.

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