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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mint Fruit Salad with Toasted Pecans


Summer is  here, and fruit and berries are cheap and plentiful. This super easy salad is perfect for a picnic on the patio, a pot luck, or to bring to that bridal shower. I don't know why it is, but too many fruit salads are kind of dull, bland, mushy, and just not that tasty. This one is a show stopper, and delish to boot. 
Start with whatever looks GREAT in your grocery store or Farmer's market. Use any types of fruit, berries, and melons that look and smell great.

Here's a sample of what we need:
1 individual size watermelon
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tangelo
1 red pear
1 banana
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 Meyer lemons (optional)
Let's start with a simple syrup. Simply put, that means equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil, then cooled. We're taking ours over the top with the addition of a vanilla bean and some fresh mint.
Vanilla beans are found in the spice section of the store. I got mine at Costco.
Lay the vanilla bean flat on a cutting board. Split it right down the middle with a very sharp knife.
Take the blade of the knife and scrape out the seeds, (they're pretty sticky), and put them, and the rest of the bean, into your water and sugar mixture.



Put some heat under this and bring it to a boil. While it's heating, cut the Meyer lemons in half, and squeeze the juice right into the water.


When the water starts to boil, turn off the heat. Let the mixture hang out and get cool while you prep the fruit. Wash and dry the berries. Then remove the vanilla bean from the syrup.






Core and stem the strawberries. Cut out the top and slice in half.


Cut out anything that's white. When it comes to fruit, white means bitter. Get rid of it.
Peel and core the Tangelo. Peel it into sections.
Again, get the white stuff out. Then cut it into bite size pieces.
Toss all the prepped fruit into a big bowl.
Now, take a wedge of the Tangelo and squeeze it over the berries. This creates another layer of flavor, and flavor's where it's at, baby!

Cut the watermelon in half, then scoop out rounds with a melon baller. Or, peel the melon and cut it up. Just make sure to get all the seeds out. That's why a seedless melon works best. Because it's easy for me.
If you're adding bananas and pears or apples, or anything that will turn brown when cut, add them last, and give them a spritz of citrus juice. (The tangelo juice works just fine).
Now get a handful of fresh mint from the garden, or from the produce section, strip the leaves off the stems and chop them up finely.

Toss the mint into the COOLED simple syrup. If you add them to warm liquid, you'll end up with mint slime. Not delish.
O.K. Let's add a little crunch. I used pecans because I like them, but you can use some almonds, walnuts, whatever floats your boat. Get a handful of pecans, probably about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, and chop them up. Put them in a skillet on low heat until you can smell them. Warning!! Do not turn your back on the nuts. Do not go to the bathroom, answer the phone, or your doorbell. The nuts will burn, and you will curse and cry and throw them in the trash. (Or is it just me?)
Cool them down, then add them to the fruit. Now, pour the minted simple syrup over the the fruit salad. Don't drown it, just add enough to give it a sweet, minty flavor. Gently stir.
Serve chilled in Martini glasses, puff pastry cups, or with a big spoon and paper bowls, or just dig on in with a fork. I like whipped cream on mine, but hey, we'll leave this as is for a figure friendly bowl of delicious, fruity, goodness.

Bon Appetit!

Ingredients:

1 individual size watermelon
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tangelo
1 red pear
1 banana
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
2 Meyer lemons (optional)

Method:
1. Make simple syrup. Add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.  Add 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, and the juice of 2 Meyer lemons. Bring to a boil, then cool.
2. 
Wash and dry all berries and fruit.

3. Cut fruit into bite size pieces.

4. Chop fresh mint finely. Add to cooled simple syrup.

5.  Toast pecans. Cool.

6. Put fruit and nuts into a big bowl. Pour enough simple syrup over the top to coat.

7. Stir gently. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.