Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Fruit Salad with Lemon-and-Agave Syrup

Gather up the best fruits you see at the market and you'll have this fruit salad.  Use the ingredients below as a template - plums, nectarines, or berries would all also be delicious here. 

For the syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the salad:
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped cantaloupe
  • 2 cups seedless grapes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pitted and halved sweet cherries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled and chopped peaches
  • 6 fresh figs, cut into quarters
  • 3 or 4 quartered and pitted apricots (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1. Combine the water, agave, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup; this step took considerably longer than I expected - a good half hour - so plan your timing accordingly.

2. Meanwhile, combine the cantaloupe, grapes, cherries, peaches, figs, and apricots in a large bowl.  Pour the reduced syrup over the fruit and toss gently to combine.  Cover and chill for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3. Just before serving, toss in the mint.

I served this salad as part of a summer repast - toasted millet with fresh corn, sliced avocado, and heirloom tomatoes in a light vinaigrette.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 cup), Calories 149 

Tasting Notes:
This salad was a bit hit-or-miss, only insofar as some of the fruits were better and fresher than the others.  Notably, I would omit the grapes next time - they weren't ideally suited for soaking in the agave syrup, and were a touch sour to boot.  The figs, apricots, peaches, and cherries, on the other hand, were bursting with great flavor.  I would have liked a much thicker agave syrup, and was disappointed to find it so thin even after all that time spent simmering down; next time, I might just drizzle agave nectar over the salad just before serving.  Still, this is a great template for a summer fruit salad, and my caution is simply to make sure you pick the best fruits available, rather than sticking to the ingredient list.


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