This is a recipe from my old newspaper column that I’ve been meaning to post for some time. In spring time when the weather is changable in many places, you might be torn between serving a hot dessert or something cold to end your meal, but let me show you an alternative; a lighter dessert that can be served either hot or cold. Fresh fruit salad can be a great finish to a big meal, but there is a little more to it than chopping it up, taking time in the way you cut up the fresh fruit will have a big impact on the appearance.
In keeping the fruit in larger pieces it becomes possible to arrange the fruit rather than just serve it. Making stock syrup for it helps to slow down the oxidation and keep in the flavours. It’s interesting and different to serve a fruit salad warm, though you can also serve this cold if you wish.
Warm Fruit Salad (serves 4-6)
200 grams castor sugar
1 plump large vanilla pod
250 ml cold water
peel of 1 lemon
peel 1 orange
1 ripe pineapple
12 Fresh lychees
1 ripe mango
1 small punnet blackberries
2 large ripe nectarines or peaches
passion fruit sorbet (optional)
- Put the sugar, water and vanilla pod into a stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil,then turn the heat to low.
- Using a very sharp knife or peeler peel the orange and the lemon, trying to make sure you peel only the skin and not the white pith.
- Add the orange and lemon peel to the syrup and simmer for 4-5 more minutes, then cool.
- Peel the pineapple well (making sure they’re no eyes left on it) then cut in half lengthwise and into quarters if the pineapple is large.
- Using a corer if you have one, cut out the woody centre from the pineapple, then cut the pineapple into 1/4 inch thick slices.
- Peel and cut the mango into slices rather than dice so you can arrange the fingers in a fan shape.
- Lychees peel relatively easily if ripe, just try to remove the skin without damaging the flesh.
- Cut the nectarines in half and carefully remove the stones. Then cut into similar slices like the mango (peel them before slicing if you wish).
- Preheat oven 120 C (gas mark 1) then divide and arrange the fruit (except the blackberries) onto large dessert plates or shallow pasta bowls. Take your time so you can arrange the fruit nicely. If you wish you could do this before your dinner guests arrive and cling wrap the plates.
- Discard the citrus peel from the stock syrup, cut the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrap the vanilla seeds into the syrup. Cut the empty vanilla pod into 2 so you have 4 pieces and keep to decorate with.
- Remove any clingfilm from your plates/bowls and carefully place into the oven for 4-5 minutes before you want to serve & reheat the stock syrup until warm.
- To serve remove the desserts from the oven adding 4-5 blackberries in a neat stack on each plate then pour over about 2 Tbsp of the syrup on each plate, making sure all of the fruit is covered. Decorate with the vanilla pod and serve immediately, offering the cold sorbet on the side perhaps in a ramakin.
The point of this dish is the contrast between the warm ripe fruits and sharp refreshing flavour of the passion fruit sorbet. If you can’t find passion fruit sorbet then use lemon and spoon a little fresh passion fruit on top. If you prefer you could serve it with a good quality vanilla ice cream (offered on the side). It’s paramount that you buy the pineapple, mango, lychees and peaches at least 3-4 days beforehand to give them chance to ripen up.
Warm Fruit Salad (serves 4-6) © Kevin Ashton 2005