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Seasonal Swing: Fall Fruit Salad

So, because last weekend wasn’t going to be busy enough, I felt the need to have people round for brunch on Sunday. It’s a good thing I’m cute when I’m getting ready for parties or I’d be so, so dumped. It’s also a good thing half my guests bailed at the last minute; the ones that DID show up were HUNGRY.

Anyway, I planned on doing my usual brunch menu: Eggs Mornay, bacon, biscuits, asparagus vinaigrette, coffee cake, and fruit salad. But, with fall in the air, my usual fruit salad (pineapple, melon, kiwi, & strawberry layered in a glass bowl) didn’t really seem appropriate.

Instead, I turned to some slightly more seasonal fruit. The WF had some gorgeous Honeycrisp apples and Asian pears (on sale-sweet!), and I grabbed a pomegranate, some figs, and a couple of Bartlett pears as well. With a few toasted walnuts on top, I figured I’d be in business for a crunchy, sweet, seasonally-sensitive salad.

I did, however, need to address the whole oxidization issue, which kind of harshed my mellow. While it’s a fall salad, I didn’t want all my fruit to be straight-up brown and mushy. THAT’S not cool.

I figured that an acidic little dressing would help keep the fruit looking its best for at least a little while. Lemon juice was the obvious candidate, but I decided to cut it with boiled cider so all my lovely fall fruits would taste like themselves and not like… lemon. And flavor-wise, this worked out really well. The boiled cider lent autumnal nuance to everything and the lemon brightened and lightened as only it can. If you don’t have boiled cider on hand, I’m sure maple syrup–the REAL thing, if you please–would be lovely as well.

While this salad is crispy and juicy and the absolute sweet essence of fall, it doesn’t really keep that well even with the tossing in lemon juice routine, so wait till right before serving to cut up the apples and pears. Everything else, though you can do ahead.

Fall Fruit Salad
Yield: 6-8 servings

2 tbs boiled cider or pure maple syrup
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pomegranate
3 medium* tart eating apples (Honeycrisp, Gala, Pink Lady, etc)
2 medium* Asian pears
2 Bartlett or Bosc pears
2 pints fresh figs
1/2 c toasted walnuts

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the boiled cider and lemon juice. Set aside.

Remove the arils from the pomegranate and set aside. Wash and dry the remaining fruit. Quarter and core each apple, and then halve each quarter and slice into 1/2cm fans. Toss the apples gently in the cider mixture to coat. Repeat process with the Asian pears. Quarter and core the Bartlett pears and cut into bite size pieces. Toss gently with the apples and Asian pears.

Trim stems from the figs and quarter them. toss gently with the apples and pears.

Mound fruit on a large platter and top with the pomegranate seeds and walnut pieces. Drizzle over remaining cider mixture if desired. Serve immediately.

Note & Variations
Ok, so “medium” means a little bigger than a tennis ball. Honeycrisp apples and Asian pears can be much larger, though–like, bigger than a softball. If they’re that big, use one or one-and-a-half here.

To toast the walnuts, preheat oven to 350 and place the nuts on a cookie sheet or lipped baking tray. Bake 10-15 minutes, or till just fragrant. Remove from oven, cool, and roughly chop.

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