Summer is salad season for a reason, fresh fruit is at its peak and waiting to be showcased on your plate. So take advantage of the surplus of fresh fruit to add layers to your next salad. Whether serving salad as a side dish or center stage as the main dish, amp up your plate with the colors of summer.
Fresh tomatoes, berries, papaya, mangos, and other delicious salad additions actually taste best in their natural state. Add them halved or whole to your salad for an instant boost of flavor, color, and nutrition. Experiment in the kitchen with your salads by trying new combinations or jazz up your salad dressing with fruits or different types of oils and vinegars. Switching out a lime from lemon or cilantro for basil will add a new spin to your salad. Make sure to choose fruits that are in season with no visible signs of bruises.
This can also be a great opportunity to introduce your family to new fruits or vegetables. I like to include my kids in the salad making process. They view the process from beginning to end and how the salad comes together. For example, my mami makes a papaya banana salad every summer to enjoy for breakfast. We all look forward to it every year, but my niece on the other hand was not interested in papaya at all. One day as my mami made the salad, she asked my niece if she would help her in the kitchen. Mami had her peel, de-seed, and slice the papaya as she explained where papayas are grown and how her father grew papayas in their backyard when she was young. My niece was in total awe of the entire story and found a new interest in this once dreaded fruit. This summer she was the first to request the famous papaya salad.
One of my favorite summer salads include papaya of course, but also include a refreshing kiwi lime dressing that ties it all together. Slice your papaya paper thin to layer around the outside rim of the plate making a festive ring to add your spinach and remaining vegetables. Blend your kiwis in a food processor or blender, but do not strain to enjoy every last bit of kiwi flavor. On evenings when I serve this salad alongside roasted chicken I quickly toast my pepitas in the oven for a few minutes to release some of their natural oils.