Use fruit that is at its peak. The vanilla bean lends a slightly exotic note, but if you don't have one, don't worry. Lemony herbs or orange mint can be substituted for the spearmint.
Make Ahead: The mint syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The fruit can be prepped and refrigerated in separate resealable plastic food storage bags for up to 2 days. Assemble and refrigerate the fruit salad with syrup at least 30 minutes before serving.
Servings: 8 - 10
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- A few strips of lime zest
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves, bruised (about 1 ounce, or a small bunch from the farmers market)
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime (1 tablespoon)
- 1 firm, ripe mango or papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
- Flesh of 1 small, ripe cantaloupe, cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1 ripe pineapple trimmed, skinned, cored and cut into bite-size pieces (3 to 3 1/2 cups)
For the syrup: Combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean and zest in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add the mint leaves and cool to room temperature.
Strain and add the lime juice; the yield is a generous 3/4 cup. At this point, the syrup can be used right away or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
For the salad: Thirty minutes before serving, combine the mango or papaya, cantaloupe and pineapple in a large bowl. Pour the syrup over the fruit; toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve at a cool room temperature.
From culinary herbalist and cookbook author Susan Belsinger.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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