Sometimes you prepare a dish that you think will be good, and it turns out to be so awesome that you just want to make it over and over and over. I made a fruit salad for a picnic last night. I could eat this for dessert every day for the rest of my life.
A fruit salad? What could be so special about a fruit salad? Well, this fruit salad not only is delicious in its own right, but the liquid in which it steeps turns into an amazing, slightly alcoholic beverage that, for my money, is at least as good as any sangria.
First of all, every piece of fruit in the salad was purchased at Chicago's Green City Market from Michigan farmers. Okay, so I went a little overboard, mixing peaches, apricots, plums, sweet cherries, blackberries and blueberries. My mantra is, "It's all about the ingredients."
But what takes this concoction up a notch is the magic of maceration (macerate = soften or break up something, especially food, by soaking in a liquid). The fruit sits for several hours in a combination of honey, fresh lime juice.... and fruit liqueur.
I used maraschino, a clear Italian liqueur made of Marasco cherries that has a bittersweet flavor and should not be confused with the syrupy sweet red syrup in which bottled maraschino cherries bathe. Luxardo is a popular brand that you can find in most good liquor stores.
But you could use triple sec/orange liqueur (Grand Marnier and Cointreau are high-end brands), pomegranate or cranberry liqueur, or whatever suits your taste. I imagine, if you were looking for a stronger alcohol buzz, you could use vodka. That may be the subject of a future blog post.
The following proportions were enough for four people: Barb, me, and the friends with whom we attended the Grant Park Music Festival performance in Millenium Park Saturday night, with a little leftover for dessert tonight. (I can also reliably report that any fruit salad will taste better when accompanied by Beethoven's 5th Symphony.)
Like most recipes, though, this one is scalable, and if you want to make less, just reduce the amount proportionately. Don't stint, though. I came promise you that you'll want seconds.
Liqueur-bathed Fruit Salad
12 cups of fruit
1/3 cup honey
fresh-squeezed juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup fruit liqueur
1) Pit and slice tree fruits; berries can be trimmed but left whole. Place all fruit in a large bowl or other container.
2) Combine honey, lime juice and liqueur in a bowl, mixing thoroughly, then pour over fruit.
3) Allow to steep in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Serve in a glass or cup so you can drink that delicious liquid while you eat.