With very warm temperatures in the past couple of weeks, there is little doubt that this spring and summer are going to be scorchers. My husband and I already have had the “Do we break down and turn on the AC?” conversation already this year, which seems like much earlier than in past years. We have not given in — yet.
I already am searching for ways to keep the house cool, including not firing up the stovetop or oven unless necessary.
In addition, great produce is starting to roll in this time of year. The farmer’s market is bursting with color and variety and only will get better and better as we get closer to summer.
This past week, I found myself with an abundance of fresh fruit and short on dinner side item ideas. I was looking to pair a dinner of chicken and fresh corn on the cob with a great side that wouldn’t heat up the kitchen and wasn’t another starch.
I decided to cook a little outside the box that night and make a fresh fruit salad, not as a dessert item, but as a dinner side.
When my older two children asked if the fruit salad was dessert, I responded with a no. “You mean it is for dinner?” they chimed in unison. Upon hearing that the salad indeed was a dinner item, they collectively called out “Cool!”
My 5-year-old was not feeling well and was pouting in bed come dinner time. Our attempts to get him to the table up to that point failed. I then whispered in his ear that I made a special salad just for him: a fruit salad with watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and mandarin oranges. He perked up and said “For dinner?” I nodded my head and motioned to pick him up and take him to the table.
He loaded up on fruit salad and even ended up eating an ear of corn and some chicken, which he previously had vowed not to eat. It was a small victory, but it was mine.
My older two even asked if there was leftover fruit salad when it came time for dessert, a time that they usually reserve for ice cream or some other sweet treat.
I have vowed to attempt to incorporate this easy side item into dinner more often because it was a huge hit and makes for a light, healthy addition to the dinner table.
Fruit salad can be easy to prepare and doesn’t need a particular recipe.
Pick your favorite fruits, cut them down to bite-size pieces, put them together in a bowl, refrigerate until cold and serve.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice to sliced apples or pears to keep them from browning.
There is no need to add any sugar or sweeteners to this dish because the natural flavors and sweetness of the fruit is all that’s needed.
However, feel free to make things interesting by adding some healthy toppings, such as shredded coconut, chopped nuts, a drizzle of raw local honey, or even flax and chia seeds. The fruit salad combinations only are limited by taste and imagination.
Control the size of the salad simply by cutting up more or less fruit. Extra salad stores easily in containers in the fridge, but eat it within a few days for best taste and appearance.