You didn’t know it when you opened this post, but you are about to witness something that doesn’t happen all that often in my kitchen—a simple, two-ingredient twist that will transform a basic fruit bowl into a mouthwatering side dish that is almost as sumptuous as dessert. Unlike some of my other “make-the-whole-thing-from-scratch” ideas, this one really is ridiculously simple. You can apply this easy twist to virtually any kind of fruit, including pre-cut if you are short on time, and the fruit itself does not have to be fancy. Look at my salad again—it’s only pineapple, grapes and berries. What elevates this simple fruit combo into an elegant and special treat is the dressing.
It may be that you have never considered “dressing” a fruit salad, but why? We don’t often see a vegetable salad served dry, and fruit is just as worthy of dressing up a bit. Dressing a fruit salad is not only tasty; it also helps the fruit retain moisture and color. Try this once and you’ll be craving fresh fruit salad every day.
The dressing for this salad depends on two special ingredients that can only be purchased in a boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, and they are worth every penny. You have probably seen one of these stores, with all their shiny stainless steel containers lined up on a high table. Those containers, called “fustis,” hold exquisitely flavored extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, ingredients which have uncanny power to change the way you cook. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I used to work in one of those shops here in my city, and it was one of my most fun jobs ever—a true foodie fantasy, come true!
These days, nobody is paying me to share about these products, but I feel compelled to do so because of the one question we received over and again at the shop, from customers who enjoyed the flavors but asked, “what would I ever do with it?” Part of my job as a sales associate was taking home various products and coming back with inspiration for the home cooks who shopped our store. I guess you could say I took my job seriously, because I’m still doing it. 🙂
The combination I’ve used for this fruit salad is blood orange-fused extra virgin olive oil and honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar. The vinegar has a slight tartness to it, but it is mostly sweet with the warmth of honey, and the ginger is subtle but present. The olive oil is rich with the flavor of blood orange, because the oranges and olives are pressed together during production. The result is so good, it makes itself at home in sweet and savory dishes alike.
At the end of the post, I’ll share some other ideas for using up these two ingredients.
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, cut into bite-sized bits
1 heaping cup fresh strawberries, sliced into quarters
1 cup fresh large blueberries
1 cup fresh white seedless grapes
3 Tbsp. honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar* (see notes)
3 Tbsp. blood orange whole fruit-fused extra virgin olive oil*
Lime zest or fresh chopped mint or basil, optional for garnish
I wish I could offer up a universal brand name for the olive oil and balsamics that I use, but they are bottled under various franchised shop names. Here’s a tip—if you have this type of store in your community, ask for the name of the supplier. If it is Veronica Foods, you’re in the right place. 😊
Wash your fruit just before assembling the salad, and it’s best to add berries just before serving or they tend to get mushy. Combine all the fruit in a bowl large enough for easy tossing in the dressing.
Pour the honey-ginger white balsamic into a small bowl, or a glass measuring cup for easier pouring. Slowly pour the olive oil into the balsamic, whisking quickly and constantly, until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
Immediately pour the dressing over the fruit and toss gently to coat the fruit. Serve right away or refrigerate up to one hour before serving.
If you would like to put a little extra pizzazz onto the salad, sprinkle with fresh lime zest or thin strips of fresh mint or basil.
Looking for more ways to use your blood orange-fused olive oil?
Substitute for the equal amount of oil in your favorite carrot cake recipe
Use it in a marinade for chicken or fish
Drizzle a teaspoon over dark chocolate ice cream (yes, really!)
Toss vegetables in it before roasting
Use it in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe
Need ideas for using up the honey-ginger white balsamic?
Try it an any salad dressing, especially Asian-inspired salads
Use it in a marinade for chicken, fish, shrimp or pork
Add a splash to a cocktail or white sangria
Drizzle it onto vegetables after grilling or roasting
Add a tablespoon to your water bottle for flavorful summer hydration