Food

A Fruit Salad That Isn’t Sad

Credit…Nico Schinco for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Good morning. When you run into a fruit salad in the wild, it’s generally trash: unripe shards of cantaloupe mixed with cardboard honeydew, pale strawberry halves, slippery rounds of browned banana, fibrous hunks of pineapple, gritty blueberries, the occasional squishy grape. It’s depressing.

But when you’re making a fruit salad yourself? When you can shop for and use a nice mix of ripe fruit, then heighten its flavors with acidity and sugar? That’s an anti-depressive situation, an experiment that can never go wrong. It’s a breakfast joy, a midday delight, a dinnertime dessert to exult.


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Fruit Salad

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Use Ali Slagle’s ace new recipe (above) to start your explorations. She massages lime zest into a little sugar so that the oils release, then mixes it into the fruit with lime juice, tweaking the ratio of juice to sugar until the result is electric. You could add some chopped mint, some red pepper flakes. Some like ground cinnamon or coriander. A little basil? That’s very good eating.

As for the rest of the week. …

Monday

I like Hetty McKinnon’s cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce for its weeknight versatility. She calls for cucumbers, bell peppers and radishes, but you could make it with cabbage or carrots instead, or with asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower — whatever is in the crisper and looking good. Mix those into soba noodles and drizzle the amazing sauce over the top, making the dish umami-rich and fiery.

Tuesday

Amandeep Sharma’s recipe for butter chicken was a staple of staff meals at the restaurant Attica, in Melbourne, Australia, where I learned to make the dish. It’s outstanding.

Wednesday

David Tanis’s lovely recipe for a spinach and tofu salad is a summer delight, and those who don’t want to turn on their ovens can certainly sear the tofu in a skillet instead. Watch it carefully, though: There’s brown sugar in the marinade.

Thursday

It doesn’t take long to make your own ranch dressing, as Ali does in her recipe for pan-seared ranch chicken, using it as both a marinade and as a creamy, herbaceous sauce. (I’m impressed by the subscriber who told us he made bacon before the chicken, seared the chicken in its fat, then crumbled the pieces over the sauce.) Get on that.

Friday

And then you can run out the week with Melissa Clark’s new recipe for a no-churn salted caramel ice cream, which happens to kick off her new video series on YouTube, “Shortcut vs. Showstopper.” Some brats for dinner beforehand? Yes, please.

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Now, it’s many miles from the subjects of braising rabbit and assembling salad, but I enjoyed Zadie Smith’s latest piece for The New Yorker about writing historical fiction in the shadow of Charles Dickens.

There’s something nakedly honest about The Financial Times’s commitment to over-the-top luxury reportage in How to Spend It, the newspaper’s weekend magazine. So, yes, let’s see what it’s like for Rory FH Smith behind the wheel of an all-electric Rolls-Royce Spectre: “Out on Napa’s wooded and winding roads, Spectre’s acceleration is stately, not excruciatingly sharp like so many electric cars.”

Alexandra Jacobs writes book reviews for The New York Times with such verve and excitement that I just might read Andrew Lipstein’s “The Vegan” on her recommendation.

Finally, the pioneering Jamaican singer Desmond Dekker was born on this day in 1944. (He died in 2006, and Jon Pareles wrote his obituary for The Times.) Cue “The Israelites,” live in 2004. Listen to that while you’re cutting fruit. I’ll be back next week.

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