This year the local chain of greengrocers I buy most of my fruit and vegetables from unfortunately fell foul of the economic climate and went into administration. One weekend all seemed fine and the next the shutters were closed and the staff out of a job. Remarkably just a week later a buyer was found and they were back in business. Since then things have just been getting better. They’ve become more adventurous with their stock; trying out new items that I’ve never really seen before; buying even more from local farmers and offering free tasters.
This week in the exotic fruit department a little basket of fresh dates appeared next to the kumquats and figs. I’ll be honest and admit that I’d never seen a fresh date before and had no idea what to do with them but I bought a bag full and took them home to experiment (mwah hahaha!). A quick search online revealed that you can eat them raw and that they have four stages of ripeness from unripe to sun-dried. The ones I bought were still quite hard with a shiny yellow skin which I think equates to the second stage of ripeness – full size and crunchy. They tasted honey-sweet but dried your mouth out. Left for a week in a paper bag making friends with a banana they become soft, brown and more pleasant to eat. I thought they’d go quite well in a salad with some other fruit from the ‘exotic’ section – ripe figs for colour and texture, juicy oranges and jewel-like pomegranate seeds. If you don’t have dates a ripe pear or apple would work equally well. A simple cinnamon syrup made with the orange juice ties the flavours together and makes this simple salad a great light dessert.
Autumn fruit salad
- 1 orange
- 1 ripe fig
- 10 fresh, ripe dates
- 1 pomegranate
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 40ml water
Holding the orange over a dish to catch any juice, cut off the rind and slice. Slice the fig and halve the dates. Arrange the fruit slices on a two small plates and scatter over pomegranate seeds.
Pour the orange juice into a small pan and add the sugar, cinnamon and water. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the fruit. Serve immediately.