Ramadan + summer= a great time for fresh and delicious fruit salads. Believe it or not, there is a way to make fruits salads even better, particularly when they’re part of the Iftar (breaking of the fast) part of the sunset meal and need to be made ahead of time for guests.
Fresh fruit salad paired with Saffron Road’s new vegetable samosas
I have a few rules of thumb for selecting and preparing fruits for my fruit salads and hope they’ll make yours nice and fresh even when made ahead of time.
1. Select fruits that are easy to process (ie. they don’t require any pitting/hulling/picking/plucking/pulling)- you get the idea. Who wants to spend a lot of time making a fruit salad when you have so many other things to prepare on any given day? And, even though bananas are easy to peel and cut, I don’t particularly prefer them in fruit salads because they tend to make it a bit mushy. The best fruits for salads tend to be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and grapes. Try different varieties to make it colorful and interesting.
2. Out of the fruits you’ve selected, choose organic. There’s really no way around this, particularly berries since if they’are sprayed with chemicals, there is nothing to peel off and you basically ingest any chemicals straight away…
3. Once you bring fruits home, organic or not, wash them well. I like to use white vinegar to spray the fruits with or soak them in cool water and white vinegar. Do this for a short period of time or else the fruit could turn colors- 5 to 10 minutes is sufficient.
Be sure to drain them well
and also dry them with a cotton cloth or paper towel
I mean really well- there’s nothing worse than a soggy salad, right?
You can use the cuttings and leftovers for compost- gives you great soil (i.e. black gold)
4. Add some interesting elements for a variety of taste and texture.
Salt and lime (or lemon) really bring out the flavors of fruit and the citrus help to prevent the fruits from browning
Get a large bowl to add and mix up all your cut fruits. Juice one lime into the bottom of the bowl before adding anything.
Add a bit of salt, depending on how much you like. I don’t add much so my fruit doesn’t taste salty- it just brings out the taste of the fruits. Some people like to add sugar- I am not particularly interested in making my salad sweeter, but if that’s your cup of tea you could do sugar instead.
I like to add raisins because they’re chewy and sweet in their own way- not bursting with juice, in contrast with the other fresh fruits
Add the fruits on top
And the juice of another lime (or lemon)
I like to add nuts, particularly sliced almonds because they add just the right amount of crunch to the salad. You could add chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, or any nuts you enjoy.
I’m generous with the amount of almonds- it really makes a difference
Then the salad needs to be mixed up well
You can tell what you might need to add just by stirring it up a bit.
I like to put them in small bowls for guests, particularly if it’s a small enough gathering.
They’re so personal- and would be great with a little cream on top…
5. Pair a fruit salad with something savory and healthy- gotta love a little bit of that sweet and savory at Iftar time…
I am in love with the new savory phyllo appetizers from Saffron Road (Vegetable Samosa and Saag Paneer). They bake fast and easy at 375 degrees F for 22 minutes exactly in my oven.
And they go so well with any fruit salad- my guests have loved them and we’ve indulged in this combo numerous times throughout Ramadan.
What are your go-to sweet and savory combos for Iftar (or any time)?