This is a ubiquitous dish in the beach bars of Spain’s Costa Tropical, using locally grown exotic fruits. It’s a lovely refreshing starter which can also be quite substantial, while providing a large contribution to your five a day. We usually share one between two of us before a platter of grilled fish.
I will confess to not being a fan of conventional fruit salad: a variety of soggy fruits swimming in sickly sweet liquid does not float my boat. Bananas are especially loathsome in this context. But ensalada tropical is completely different: the dressing adds a welcome acidity that complements the fruit beautifully.
The recipe allows for considerable variation. The essentials are crisp lettuce, some kind of citrus, and something crunchy (although apple is not tropical, I think a few slices add the necessary texture). You won’t go far wrong by including mango, avocado and pineapple, in fact I think it’s incomplete without at least two of these. Melon in some form is good, and a few slices of kiwi fruit are attractive. We added persimmon to our last one, and that worked well too. I think passion fruit would be a lovely addition. Other than that, use what you like and is available (although I have to say I have never seen one featuring bananas, thank goodness).
We also toss in some of the handy fruit and seed mix sold as “salad mixture” in Spanish supermarkets (I always stock up on it when there). This usually features raisins, chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, and maybe some chopped roasted hazelnuts.
Fruit of choice (see above)
Crisp lettuce, such as iceberg or batavia
Dried fruit, seeds and nuts of your choice (see above — optional)
extra-virgin olive oil, a nice peppery one
salt and pepper
Shred the lettuce and cut the peeled fruit into neat dice or slices, depending on shape. Oranges or other citrus should be peeled and divided into segments, removing the membrane. Arrange the lettuce in the bottom of your serving dish, and then arrange the fruit attractively on top. Sprinkle over a little fruit and seed mix if using. Sprinkle with a small amount of vinegar, then drizzle olive oil over the top; don’t drown it though. Season with a little salt and pepper. Provide olive oil and vinegar on the table in case people want to add more. Serve. Err — that’s it!