Food

Simple Summer Fruit Salads

How to make the most of the best stone fruits, berries, melons and more this season.

There is nothing more refreshing or beautiful than a colourful bowl of fruit salad. Sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe fruit is a sweet start or finish to any day. With these thoughtful, easy combinations you can create sublime fruit salads that manage to be more than the sum of their parts.

These salads are created on the principle that what grows together goes together. Simple and delicious, these recipe ideas are perfect for when you’re craving something different.

Apricot-cherry combo
These are the first fruits of summer. Their seasons are short, so take advantage of this brief window to combine the two stone fruits. The deep red of the cherries and sunset-gold of the apricots create a strikingly gorgeous combination. The almonds' slight bitterness contrasts with the intense sweetness of the fruit.

To assemble: Toss pitted, halved cherries with pitted, chopped apricots, then sprinkle with toasted, sliced almonds. (To toast almonds: Preheat oven to 350°F, spread sliced almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet, bake until almonds on the outer edge of sheet just start to turn golden, about 3 minutes.)

Sweet tip: If the whole mixture isn’t quite as sweet as you’d like, dust it with a bit of icing sugar to taste.

Berry burst
Combining blueberries, blackberries and raspberries creates a mix that is sublime: blueberries bring a spicy earthiness, blackberries offer a juicy burst, and raspberries sweeten the pot.

To assemble: Combine berries in more or less equal volume amounts (this will lead to about twice as many blueberries as blackberries and slightly fewer raspberries). For an extra bit of herbal depth, toss in a chiffonade of basil: Lay basil leaves in a stack, roll up lengthwise and slice into thin strips crosswise. You will end up with fine, intensely aromatic shavings.

Sweet tip: If your berries aren’t as perfectly flavourful as they looked at the market, try fixing them with a sprinkle of mint-infused simple syrup: Bring 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add ½ cup fresh mint (or your preferred herb) leaves torn into pieces. Let sit until cool. Strain and use (store, covered and chilled, up to one month).

Face-up figs
Oozing with thick, syrupy juice and offering a slight crunch from their seedy flesh, these treats have a short, volatile season. The delicate fruits burst and split easily when handled or jostled (whether being transported from farm to market or market to home). If you find yourself in the happy position of having eaten your fill of fresh figs, try broiling them for a cooked, composed salad.

To assemble: Preheat a broiler. Cut figs in half lengthwise and place them cut-side-up on a baking sheet, broiling them (3 to 4 inches from heating element) until the surface bubbles and boils. Remove and serve with a dollop of fresh farmers’ cheese or ricotta on the side.

Melon medley
Combining different varieties of melons in a fruit salad brings them to new heights of flavour. Honeydews add a bit of tartness, cantaloupes have a sweet yet musky flesh, watermelons a fresh crunch.

To assemble: Cut equal amounts into bite-size chunks and combine. Drizzle each serving with a tablespoon or two of a honey-herb glaze.

Sweet tip: To make honey-herb glaze, dissolve 1 tablespoon honey in ½ cup water over medium heat. Add a handful of fresh, green, sweet herb leaves such as thyme, basil, lavender and mint. Let sit until cool.

Grilled nectarines, plums & pluots
Try grilling your orchard fruit salad. The brief exposure to heat helps bring out the natural sweetness in the fruit.

To assemble: Pit and quarter equal amounts of nectarines, plums and pluots. Brush a clean grill with a neutral-flavoured oil like grapeseed or canola. Heat grill to a medium-high fire. Place fruit on the grill, cover and cook until grill marks form and fruit is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Combine and serve as soon as possible.

Sweet tip:Top with crushed amaretti or other almond cookies.

Peach cooler
Pair peaches with rosé wine for a refreshing, graceful dessert.The resulting colour combination recalls the best evenings at the beach.

To assemble: Add peach wedges to a glass filled with ¼ cup dry rosé wine. Serve with a spoon.