Pretty much everything I love about summer is summed up on this plate – delicious ingredients (mostly fruits and vegetables) full of flavor, that require very little preparation to make a meal.
Perhaps I should begin by saying that I have been a fruit fiend for all of my life, ready to pass up a plate of fries for a giant bowl of fruit any day. What I’ve learned in France, however, is that fruit is only meant to be enjoyed during the right season. While I grew up in Boston enjoying blueberries in December and green seedless grapes all year round, I quickly learned here, mainly by the stares I received by old French women and market vendors when trying to purchase a bag of grapes in winter, that there is absolutely no point in eating something out of season, because the seasonal stuff tastes so much better. And I have to hand it to the French, because they’re absolutely right. I now find myself dreaming about the enormous and tender black figs that are in season here through late summer and early fall – I distinctly remember eating my first one upon arriving in France in 2009, and just staring at it after my first bite. I was shocked to know that a fruit could contain so much life and taste. The other day when I saw a few of the same figs at a fruit stand in the Marais, I got so excited and quickly rushed to the vendor in order to have my first bite. Imagine my disappointment when the fruit vendor confiscated my figs from me: “ne prenez pas ces figues - elles n’ont aucun goût. Elles seront bonnes en août – don’t buy these figs, they have no taste. You have to wait until August.” I like to think he was looking out for me. One can never be too sure though…
Although I still sometimes yearn for a giant bag of seedless green grapes to munch on while surfing the internet at home in the wintertime, I admit that every minute of the wait is worth it, because the fruit season is in full force and everything I eat is bursting with flavor. Of course, there are always exceptions (France is, after all, the land of paradoxes), which is why no one has qualms eating avocados from Chili throughout the year, in addition to green beans from Africa. But I’m not judging, I’d rather join.
So I made you a fruit salad that I just love, with a dressing similar to what I made for the Avocado and Mint recipe (mint, olive oil, and honey, with the addition of lime juice). I wanted to present it in the form of a millefeuille because I was excited about the prospect of taking a photo this way, but in terms of flavor combinations I would recommend just tossing everything together, because the creamy avocado will envelope the other ingredients and give them a wonderful, slightly savory touch.
If you are thinking of making this for a light lunch, I would recommend pairing it with a sweet white wine such as riesling or gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France. Unfortunately I don’t know other wine regions from other countries well but hopefully you catch my drift.
Lastly, if you make this recipe you will find yourself left with half of a melon and half of an avocado. For the melon, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and saving it in your fridge for the next few days. To prevent the avocado from browning, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice and place in a sealed plastic container, so it will keep for a day or two in your fridge. If you’d like, you could dice them both up and combine them both with some crabmeat, lime juice, and olive oil the next day to make another delicious and refreshing salad. Just an idea – if you have any other suggestions for what to do with leftover avocado and melon, please write them!
1 melon, halved, seeds discarded
1 avocado, halved, pit removed
1/2-cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablepoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 apricots, halved, pits removed, thinly sliced
about a dozen dark cherries, pits removed, thinly sliced
1 handful toasted slivered almonds
1. Using a knife, cut around the edge of the melon half, then working from the center outward in a circular motion, cut into thin slices. Scoop out with a spoon, and place melon slices flat around the edge of a large plate.
2. Use one half of the avocado and reserve the other half for another use. Thinly slice the avocado, scoop out gently with a spoon, and place in between the melon slices.
3. In a bowl, combine a few sliced mint leaves with the honey, olive oil, and the juice of 1/2 of the lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Place three of the apricot slices in the center of the plate. Top with several cherry slices, then with some sliced mint. Top the mint with three more apricot slices, and repeat in this manner until you have no more apricot, cherry, or mint left.
5. Drizzle everything with the honey and lime mixture, then with the toasted almonds.