For Memorial Day last week, we hosted a back yard barbecue and pool party. The grill master, Scott, smoked pork ribs for the crowd. We iced down drinks, served several salads and side dishes and topped it off with chilled, juicy wedges from a watermelon that had been plunged into the icy water of a cooler. Also being munched that day were fresh pineapple spears, grapes and strawberries. Despite the large group and hearty appetites, I ended up with leftover fruit.
When faced with a fridge full of fresh-but-not-for-long ingredients, you must act decisively. I had little choice but to assemble a fruit salad. My last one had a spicy, gingery-lime dressing dotted with minced jalape?os that delivered a little tingle to the tongue. It was actually was featured on the Today Show’s online food segment a few months later, which was neat. Anyway, I wanted to try something different with this one. I think the “poolside cocktails” vibe from Memorial Day was still strumming in my head, so I headed for the liquor cabinet.
Fruit and liquor have a long-standing friendship. Think Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee, not to mention all the fruit-based cocktails, daquiris, coladas, sangrias.
I spied some triple sec and rum and found my inspiration.
I started with a simple syrup made of rum, triple sec and sugar. While it cooled, I prepped the fruit, then tossed it with the syrup. Because I wanted a little more of that tipsy flavor, I added a tablespoon more of each of the liquors, but you certainly don’t have to.
Summer cooking should really be about letting the food speak for itself, don’t you think? Fruits and vegetables are abundant and at their peak of flavor. Plus, it’s so hot out, no one really wants to expend a lot of energy with complex recipes. Sometimes instant gratification is best.
- 3 tablespoons dark rum optional, plus one additional tablespoon before serving
- 3 tablespoons triple sec optional, plus one additional tablespoon before serving
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 cups of your favorite fruit such as watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges, cut into bite sized pieces
Add sugar, and 3 tablespoons each of rum and triple sec to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cook for an additional minute or two until liquor reduces by about 1/3 and mixture becomes syrupy.
In a large bowl, toss fruit with the syrup. Taste a piece of fruit. If you want a more pronounced liquor flavor, add up to an additional tablespoon of each liquor and toss again. Chill fruit before serving.