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Enhancing Fruit Salad

We're entering the spring potluck season, and I like to make fruit salad if we're going to an outing at which any fresh produce is likely to be dressed with mayonaise or velveeta.

I usually just chop whatever fruit appeals to me into a bowl and stir. Does anyone have suggestions for additions?

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  1. I like poppy seeds sometimes or toasted nuts. I like to use vanilla yogurt. I also use various liquors sometimes - anything sweet or fruity. depending on the fruit a little good quality . Balsamic can really draw out the flavors - particularly with melons and berries

      1. For grown-ups only: liqueur, usually something citrusy or vanilla-flavoured.

        For everyone: chopped crystallized ginger, or fresh herbs (mint, basil, lemon balm, etc.), or pomegranate seeds/syrup, or toasted coconut, or chopped marrons glac├ęs (if you want to be totally decadent).

        1 Reply
        1. re: piccola

          Don't let only the non-drinkers enjoy the flavor of the the tropics -- good quality vanilla, either let a bean pod soak with the juice or a tsp of extract.

          Same idea with almond extract -- sure there is a bit of alcohol, but the flavor is so much more concentrated that a tsp will flavor a huge bowl of salad with far less residual alcohol than liqueur.

        2. Just a bare touch of finely ground chili powder. Don't tell anyone. magic.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            As in cayenne (as opposed to the premixed Mexene-types)?

            Sounds interesting. . .

            1. re: mamaciita

              Any chili powder that is finely ground rather than in flakes. Don't want to freak people out. My last fruit salad had a touch of chili powder purchased in the old market in Mexico City, ground nutmeg, and a bit of lime juice. What is a pre-mixed Mexene chili powder?

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Usually it is pure ground chile like ancho, instead of a mix that includes things like cumin and oregano.

                Cayenne would probably be good too. I love doing a jicama salad, with orange segments, lime juice, ancho powder, and cilantro. My kids eat it up like crazy.

                1. re: Becca Porter

                  I've been craving jicama salad--I'm going to try yours!!

                  1. re: mamaciita

                    You won't regret it. It is so crunchy and refreshing. I love it...

                    1. re: Becca Porter

                      not to sounds like an uber-dork, but how does one slice the jicama?

                      1. re: lollya

                        After I use a knife to slice off the outside, I cut them into 1/2 inch matchsticks. I really like them cut into sticks.

                  2. re: Becca Porter

                    YUM!!! I made your jicama salad to go with enchiladas for dinner last Saturday, and had the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday. I may have to do the same this weekend.

                  3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Mexene is a name brand of "chili soup" chili powder, with ground chiles, added spices, and salt. I use it in soups, marinades, and dips--it isn't particularly spicy.

                  4. re: mamaciita

                    Cayenne is too strong. Go for a milder Indian chili powder. Or a Mexican one.
                    I adore pineapple chunks on a skewer that have a squeeze of fresh lime, and then
                    are sprinkled with high quality sea salt and the barest touch of chili powder.
                    (By the way, this was served at a Chez Panisse street fair.)

                    A great way to use broken biscotti: Take a clear plastic cup and put some broken
                    biscotti crumbs in the bottom, then spoon the cut-up fruit on top. Add a drizzle of
                    balsamic syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche and/or whipped cream (good quality
                    canned works) to really gussy it up.

                  5. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    On a similar vein, I like lime juice and a really finely chopped jalapeno.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Yes! I love to use ground chipotle pepper with fruit and fruity salads, such as a coleslaw thing I make, using mandarin oranges, pineapple and chopped mix-colored bell peppers, etc.

                    2. If you can afford a passionfruit or two, add the pulp, juice and seeds.

                          1. re: alex8alot

                            I'll add this one here- last year I had a fruit salad that knocked my socks off- the cook had scraped the watermelon rind after she had melon-balled all she could- and simmered the pulp with a hefty dose of sugar and an even more healthy slug of cointreau until the syrup was just right. Pink and yummy!

                          1. re: cheetobrain

                            I make a ginger mint simple syrup and then add the lime.

                            1. A splash of Grand Marnier and some fresh mint.

                              1. A splash of Grand Marnier, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of honey.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: TheGloaming

                                  Lime or lemon rind microplaned over the fruit makes a world of difference and lime juice makes fruit sing.

                                  1. re: missclaudy

                                    This is my trick also! Be careful not to include any of the pith (white part), it makes the whole thing bitter. Orange zest is good too.

                                2. When I make fruit salad composed primarily of melons I like a bit of salt and mint. It's a huge flavor enhancer.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                                    With a lot of melon in mine I like to add a bit of powdered ginger.
                                    Also when I am just eating fresh cantaloupe I sprinkle a little bit of sugar and a good amount of ginger on top. To die for. And everone looked at me oddly when I did it as a kid :)

                                  2. -a Mexican tradition: lime juice, salt and a tiny pinch of cayenne.
                                    -serve Melon balls in a pool of sweet white dessert wine (or a ICE cold gewertztraminer or riesling).
                                    -put fruit on kebabs and serve with dip: thick yogurt sweetened with honey.
                                    -strawberries are wonderful with a drizzle of reduced balsamic.
                                    -toss sliced peaches with poppy seed dressing (Brennan's is a good brand)
                                    -Think color: sliced black plums with blueberries and diced kiwi could not be more gorgeous. a little lime enhances the flavor beautifuly.

                                    1. A drizzle of honey, sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of lime juice. My fruit salads always get a bit juicier with the acidity of the lime juice, which is tasty for dribbling over accompanying cookies or biscuits.

                                      1. A little vinegar and a pinch of sugar, especially if the fruit isn't quite fabulous on its own.

                                        1. i always fring fruit salads to potlucks and have had tons of success with adding a bit of cumin, red onion and cilantro. it's also important to salt it (i like kosher salt). i like to used pineapples, honeydew, or peaches and always throw in blueberries for color. the salt, cumin and onions really go nicely with the sweet bright fruit flavors. usually i eat half of it as soon as i make it, but it's pretty good the next day as well, once it sits for awhile.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: taryn

                                            Cumin, red onion, and cilantro are the warm-weather Trinity at our house. I'd never thought of using them with fruit, though. Can't wait!

                                          2. I cut up Canteloupe and strawberries, then add crumbled goat cheese, crumbled candied pecans and a splash of balsamic glaze. Better than ice cream!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: thatgirl153

                                              YUM sounds awesome -what about using blue cheese???

                                              1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                I love to add sparkiling wine Moscato d'Asti or a late harvest ice wine. For those who can't have alcohol, the previous suggestions of cilantro and lime are great. Be sure to add the blueberries at the last minute or everything turns purple.

                                                1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                  Never tried it with blue cheese...but I will now!

                                              2. My secret ingredient is a couple of teaspoons of Chambord. It brightens the flavor of all the fruit (particularly the berries) and no one can ever figure out why the fruit salad tastes so "fruity". The amount is so small that the alcohol content is negligible.

                                                1. I mix cointreau and powdered dry ginger.

                                                  1. Finely shredded basil is a lovely complement to fruit salad. As are spicy candied nuts, flowers, or cheese (nut or herb-coated cheeseballs, or crumbled feta or blue, or even just shredded cheddar). Or you can do a "deconstructed" prosciutto y meloni by making a melon salad and adding chopped bits of good quality prosciutto.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Juniper

                                                      Oh, and I forgot to add that you could also try a mixture of lime juice and rosewater.

                                                    2. Crumble some coconut macaroons into the fruit salad...Sublime

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: jinet12

                                                        great suggestions--will try some of these myself. Limoncello (Italian liqueur) is also good in fruit salad. My sister made one with dried cranberries and it really added a great flavor and texture.

                                                      2. My favorite is to mix in a box of instant vanilla pudding mix. If there is not enough liquid in the fruit, add some orange juice or fruit flavored soda to get the creamy consistency you want. DH is diabetic, so I made it with sugar free inst vanilla pudding mix. It's sooooo good. Throw in some mariscino cherries!