Saturday, July 9, 2011

Minty Honey Lime Sauce for Fruit Salads

Managing fresh produce onboard presents an interesting challenge for a cruising cook, even in our cooler climate. Rhapsody has one standard-sized household refrigerator with no extra coolers, etc. for cold storage. That calls for restraint when I provision. It is so tempting to select fruit and vegetables at their peak of ripeness, colorful and vitamin-rich, bursting with flavor. That works well for a day or two, but it isn’t a good idea when grocery runs are ten days to two weeks apart. So I’m the shopper you see picking out a few ripe items to enjoy immediately, and pounds of green bananas, green mangos, rock-hard avocados, etc. for the future. Can you imagine passing up fragrant, ripe peaches for the green, hardball variety instead? Sigh!

Storage is a key issue. Our galley and salon are usually warm spaces, heated for crew comfort by solar gain through large windows or by an Espar heater. That’s good for people, but the produce isn’t happy. When we don’t have guests aboard the guest head is the coolest room on the boat; its counter and shelves often hold several baskets of fruits and vegies. It’s might look a bit odd if you don’t expect the colorful items, but it works. 

The bought-when-green fruit can be flavor challenged when it does ripen. That’s when I rely on my small herb garden to add some zip to otherwise bland fruit salads.

It’s amazing what a little mint can do, along with a mixture of honey and lime. This mint mix is such a favorite that we also drizzle it over already tasty fruit, or Greek yogurt, or add some olive oil to make a vinagrette for spinach salads, or top a cream cheese covered cracker for an appetizer. What an amazing flavor punch from a three-ingredient sauce!

Minty Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Serves 2, but expands for a crowd

2 tablespoons fresh mint, julienned*
juice of 1 small lime (about 2 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons honey

1 sliced banana
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 mango, cubed
or other combination of fruit as available, like pineapple, kiwi, melons, nectarines, blueberries…

Place the sauce ingredients in a small, microwaveable bowl. Nuke it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, just enough to warm the honey but not cause it to bubble and boil. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly for your sweet/sour preference. Add sprigs of fresh mint to decorate (optional)

Place the cut-up fruit in a serving bowl. Add the minty sauce and toss gently to mix. Let it sit for a few minutes, then toss again. If you make this ahead of time, refrigerate to hold for a few hours, but bring to room temperature to serve. (Bananas don’t hold well; add them just before serving)

  • * You can substitute 1 tablespoon dried mint for the fresh, though the flavor won’t be as intense.
  • Increase the ingredients to feed a crowd. Arrange the fruit on a small platter and drizzle the sauce on top or serve it alongside in a pitcher or gravy boat.

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