As we enter into summer, I've been observing people celebrate the arrival of warm-weather fruits and vegetables. My coworkers gleefully tear into packages of fresh strawberries and share them amongst themselves, and I've been buying boxes of blueberries for Justin to put in his morning cereal and pop into his mouth as a quick snack. I have to say though, with perhaps the exception of the impending arrival of peach/nectarine season, I'm not really feeling the same enthusiasm. I just don't care much for fruit.
Sure, I force myself to eat it from time to time in order to obtain vital nutrients, and feel like my diet is at least a little bit healthier, but I can honestly say that I never crave fruit. Nutritionists have tried to convince me in the past that if I eat it often enough, I'll come to love it, but it just hasn't happened. Even as my palate has matured during adulthood, and I've come to tolerate vegetables that I couldn't stand as a child, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, I've yet to pick up a taste for fruit.
I particularly loathe berries, the stars of the summer fruit scene. I hate the tiny little seeds that get stuck in your teeth, the sweet/tart flavors, and the often mushy textures. If I puree them, add sugar, strain out the seeds and churn it into sorbet, I can get myself to eat raspberries, but that's about it, and I'm pretty sure that defeats any nutritional value in consuming the fruit.
Still, when it came time to pick some dishes for the Memorial Day potluck I hosted today, I found myself considering fruit salad. I may not understand it, but I'm astute enough to notice how happy people are to be consuming summer fruits. I make plenty of dishes I don't really want to eat myself just for the experience of making them and to bring joy to others, so why not give the people what they want? Plus, one of my guests has recently adopted a mostly-vegan diet, and I didn't have much time to bake one of my usual butter-laden desserts anyway, due to our trip down to White Hall. Fruit salad seemed like a perfect solution.
Because I don't eat it myself, I decided to turn to a source I could trust for a recipe -- my mom. For as long as I can remember, she's been making a fruit salad with poppy seed dressing that's always universally well-received with house guests, family members, and whoever else had had the chance to sample it over the years. I'd never had the inclination to try it myself, but I figured I couldn't go wrong.
Thankfully, though Mom was still down in White Hall with the rest of the family, Dad was home (an unfortunate accident at a conference he attended in Las Vegas last week left him with a badly sprained ankle, and unable to travel downstate with us) and he was able to locate the recipe in Mom's handwritten cookbook, transcribe it, and email it to me. Though I had to check two different grocery stores to find the frozen limeade concentrate called for in the dressing recipe, the recipe was exceedingly quick and easy to put together. The most time-consuming part was washing, peeling, and cutting up the fruit itself. Who knew it was so difficult to supreme an orange?
Just as it always has been for Mom, the fruit salad was a huge success. My guests devoured it, leaving only a tiny, single-size portion in the bottom of the giant bowl. Even I ate a few slices of peach and orange, and I have to admit, that for fruit salad, this stuff is pretty good. I know that simple, unadorned fruit seems to be popular this time of year, but if you're looking for a way to jazz up your summer produce bounty, I think you can't go wrong with this recipe.
Fresh Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
adapted from Mom
1/4 c. honey
2 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/8 dry mustard powder
For salad, choose any four of the following:
1 c. fresh blueberries
2 medium peaches or nectarines, peeled and sliced
2 medium oranges, peeled and sliced
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
1 c. grapes, sliced
In a small lidded jar, combine all dressing ingredients, shake well. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors. Arrange salad ingredients on serving plates. Serve with dressing.