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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Fruit salad need not be sweet: Try spicy!

 •  Asparagus of the sea

By Phyllis Glazer
Associated Press

Lemons stuffed with piquant fruit salad and lavender dressing is a quick and easy dessert that is high in aesthetics and low in calories.

ARIEL SHALIT | Associated Press

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Juicy peaches. Mouth-watering melons. Antioxidant-rich cherries and blueberries.

There's a gorgeous array of seasonal fruit available, just beckoning to be turned into fruit salad.

But for most of us, fruit salads are basically variations on the same old theme. Pleasantly tasty, perhaps, but not very exciting.

Here's a suggestion: Why not give your fruit salad extra panache this summer? Make it savory. Upgrade it from the ordinary to a toothsome delight. Look beyond dessert and consider serving it as antipasto, a side salad or even a light meal.

Begin with one fruit or a combination of fresh or grilled fruit. Then add fresh herbs, such as mint or tarragon, arugula or basil. Next, perhaps some cheese: You could try parmesan, feta, goat or blue cheese.

Finally, season the fruit with your choice of flavoring ingredients, ranging from mildly savory to downright spicy, or out-of-the-ordinary sweet. Try olive oil, date syrup or molasses, white wine, preserved lemons or lively jalapeno, with a twist of freshly ground black pepper to taste. The results will knock your slippers off.

If you are uncertain about how to start, try the following recipes and have fun experimenting. This is an easygoing pursuit, perfect for lazy summer days.

You may already have the ingredients in the kitchen.

Or introduce your own choices, especially with the fruit. Use what you and your family like best, or what is at its peak in your local market the day you're shopping for salad ingredients.

It's the suggested combinations that may surprise you.

Strawberries plus onion, honey and chili? When it's teamed with blue cheese, absolutely.

Lemons stuffed with peppered apricots and plums, with lavender dressing? Taste it and decide whether to have a second helping.

These recipes are from Amir Calphon, chef of the Carmel Forest Spa, near Haifa, Israel.

This one is guests' favorite.


  • 2 cups halved or sliced strawberries (cut lengthwise)

  • 2 cups mixed baby greens

  • 1 cup cilantro, leaves only

  • 1 rib celery, sliced lengthwise and finely diced

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Bermuda onion

  • 2 ounces toasted pecans

  • 5 ounces blue cheese or Roquefort, crumbled


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 hot chili, minced

    Place all ingredients for the salad in a large bowl except for the cheese, and toss gently.

    Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together (or place in a jar with a cover and shake vigorously) and pour over the salad. Garnish with the cheese and serve.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving (without salt): 550 calories, 48 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 1,600 g sugar, 12 g protein


    Lavender dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender leaves*

  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar

  • Drop of rose water (optional)

    Stuffed lemons:

  • 2 medium lemons, halved, squeezed and juice reserved

  • 2 fresh apricots, pitted and finely diced

  • 2 plums, pitted and finely diced

  • 2 to 4 teaspoons minced fresh green jalapeno peppers

  • Mint leaves for garnish

    Prepare the dressing first: Mix water, lemon juice, lavender and sugar together in a small saucepan and heat on low 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Strain and add a drop of rose water if desired. Do not overcook or let stand without straining, or mixture will turn bitter. (May be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Use extra over fruit salads, fine vanilla cake or ice cream.)

    Use a spoon to hollow out each lemon half, leaving only the white pith. Cut a slice out of the stem end so it will stand. (Beware of making a hole in the bottom.)

    Finely dice the fruit and combine in a small bowl with jalapeno pepper. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Mix gently and stuff the lemon halves. Top each with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons lavender dressing, garnish with mint leaves and serve, or cover and chill till serving time.

    * Dried culinary lavender can be found at some specialty food stores or ordered online.

    Makes 4 servings, of 1/2 lemon each, for a light dessert. May also be served as a condiment.

  • Per serving: 90 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 1 g protein