Savoury fruit salads: 3 zingy salad recipes that are perfect for hot weather

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From orange to watermelon, sweet summer fruits make a surprisingly punchy addition to savoury salads when teamed with contrasting flavours textures. Here are three fruit-forward recipes to try now. 

The words ‘fruit salad’ probably make you think of a bland, kid-friendly bowl of chopped apple, grapes and strawberries. But when added to savoury salads, fruit can add a satisfying hit of juicy sweetness that feels just right for a heatwave.

The trick to a successful savoury fruit salad is to make sure to offset syrupy flavours and soft textures with contrasting ingredients. Crisp leaves and vegetables, salty cheese and crunchy toppings such as toasted nuts and seeds all work well with fruit – as do tart dressings featuring zingy citrus juice, spicy fresh chilli and tangy vinegars. 

Below, we’ve got three quick and easy summer salad recipes that put fruit to good use. Celia Brooks’ raw carrot and orange salad with tahini dressing is bright, nutty and extremely pretty, and you’ll want to eat Jessica Elliott Dennison’s pickled watermelon salad with grilled halloumi and spelt all summer long.

The green papaya salad, meanwhile, comes courtesy of chef Saiphin Moore – co-owner of much-loved London restaurant chain Rosa’s Thai Cafe. Can’t find papaya in your local supermarket? Moore suggests using apples or green mangoes instead.

Prepare to never see fruit salad in the same way again… 

  • Celia Brooks’ raw carrot and orange salad with tahini dressing recipe

    carrot orange salad with tahini

    Celia says: “Got a spiralizer? Here’s an opportunity to make good use of it to create crisp and attractive tendrils of raw carrot for this bright and refreshing salad. No spiralizer? No problem – just grate the carrots coarsely, or even shave into ribbons with a veg peeler. This delicately composed salad makes a tasty light lunch, and it’s also pretty and delicious enough for entertaining as part of a feast.”

    Serves 4 as a side

    Takes 20 mins

    Ingredients

    For the tahini dressing

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • sea salt

    For the salad

    • 300 g (10 1/2 oz) large, fat carrots, peeled
    • 1 large seedless orange
    • 1 punnet of growing cress, cut from base, or 2 handfuls of sprouting beans or seeds (such as mung beans, sunflower sprouts or alfalfa sprouts or a mixture)
    • 25 g (1 oz) shelled pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped, or flaked almonds, toasted
    • few coriander (cilantro) leaves (optional)

    Special equipment

    • Spiralizer, grater or veg peeler for preparing the carrots.

    Method

    To make the dressing, first boil a small amount of water in the kettle. Place the tahini in a small bowl (a layer of oil often separates at the top of the tahini jar, just dig your spoon in under it). Pour 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) boiling water over the tahini and use a fork to stir until smooth.

    Add the lemon juice and a large pinch of salt and stir well. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles – just keep stirring until smooth. Set aside.

    Process the carrots into strands, using either a spiralizer, grater, peeler, food processor or mandoline (you may have some chunks left over to use elsewhere). Place the strands in a bowl and chill until serving.

    Take the whole orange, unpeeled, and cut off the top and bottom. Cut equatorially into three or four thick slices, then lay each slice on the chopping board and cut downwards to remove all the skin and white pith.

    Cut the flesh into bite-sized chunks, paring away any pithy or tough bits from the core or elsewhere. Be sure to remove any seeds. Chill until ready to assemble the salad.

    Assemble the salad just before serving. First, mix the cress or sprouts through the carrot strands in the bowl then, on a large serving plate or in individual shallow bowls or plates, make a bed of the carrot-sprout mix as loose and tall as possible. Add the orange chunks.

    Spoon over the dressing next, or keep separate for each person to add, but do not toss. Scatter over the nuts and coriander leaves, if using, and eat right away.

    From SuperVeg: The Joy and Power of the 25 Healthiest Vegetables on the Planet by Celia Brooks (£16.99, Murdoch Books), out now

  • Jessica Elliott Dennison’s pickled watermelon and halloumi spelt recipe

    watermelon salad halloumi

    Jessica says: “Watermelon is good mood food; brilliant eaten outside, somewhere warm and sunny. You’ll see I quickly pickle the watermelon along with the red onion; not only to balance the salty halloumi and intense sundried tomatoes but because drawing out its naturally sweet juices helps to form a great dressing for the chewy spelt grains. 

    “As is often the case, I go heavy on the herbs here, chopping a mix of parsley, dill and mint. By all means just use one or two kinds of soft herb if that’s all you have to hand. Hopefully you’ll agree this is a great dish to have in your collection for brighter days.”

    Takes 20 minutes

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 350 g (12 oz) spelt
    • 3 tablespoons vinegar
    • 1½ tablespoons sugar
    • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
    • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
    • 150 g (5 oz) sugar snap peas
    • 6 jarred sundried tomatoes plus 2½ tablespoons infused oil from the jar
    • 250 g (9 oz) halloumi
    • 1 small watermelon (450 g/1 lb flesh)
    • 200 g (7 oz) radishes, thinly sliced
    • small bunch (20 g/¾ oz) flatleaf parsley, leaves only
    • small bunch (20 g/¾ oz) dill, leaves only
    • small bunch (20 g/¾ oz) mint, leaves only
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 3 tablespoons dukkah (optional)

    Method

    First, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spelt for the time stated on the packet (around 16–18 minutes). Then refresh under cold water, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, stir the vinegar, sugar and half the salt in a large bowl. Slice the onion into half-moons, as finely as you can, and stir through the vinegar mixture to quickly pickle (this will make the onion turn bright pink).

    Next, fill a frying pan (skillet) 2 cm (¾ in) deep with water. Bring to a rapid boil then blanch the sugar snap peas over a high heat for 1 minute.

    Refresh under cold water, drain thoroughly then set aside.

    Wipe out the pan with a few sheets of kitchen paper then heat 1 tablespoon of the sundried tomato oil over a high heat. Crumble in bite-size chunks of the halloumi (discarding any liquid from the packet) and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden. Set aside.

    Chop the watermelon into large chunks (discarding the seeds and skin) and add to the onion pickle mixture for 5 minutes. Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes and finely chop the herbs.

    To assemble, place the spelt, onion and pickled watermelon (not the pickling juice), sugar snap peas, remaining tomato oil, radishes, tomatoes, herbs and remaining salt in a large mixing bowl.

    Squeeze in the lime juice, gently toss with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed then transfer to a platter. Top with the halloumi and dukkah, if using.

    From Salad Feasts: How to Assemble the Perfect Meal by Jessica Elliott Dennison (£16.99, Hardie Grant), out now

  • Rosa’s Thai Cafe's green papaya salad (som tam) recipe

    Thai papaya salad from Rosa's Thai Kitchen

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
    • 1-10 red bird’s eye chillies (depending on how brave you are)
    • 5 small (or 2–3 large) garlic cloves
    • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons palm sugar
    • 2 yard-long beans (or green beans), cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
    • 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 teaspoons salt)
    • 1⁄2 medium green papaya, peeled and shredded
    • 1 carrot, shredded
    • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp (leave out for a vegetarian alternative)

    Method

    In a small, dry frying pan, toast the peanuts over a medium heat until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. (There’s also a ready-toasted alternative you can find in the supermarkets).

    Coarsely pound the chillies and garlic together using a pestle and mortar. Add the palm sugar, beans and tomatoes. Lightly pound to combine, then squeeze in the lime juice and fish sauce.

    Lightly pound again, then add the green papaya and carrot. Pound again and toss to combine. The taste should be sweet and salty in perfect balance, with a sharp, sour and spicy tang.

    Spoon the salad into a serving bowl and sprinkle over the dried shrimp and toasted peanuts.

    From Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Cookbook by Saiphin Moore (£20, Mitchell Beazley), out now

Images: Jean Cazals; © Matt Russell; Dan Jones

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