This one is so simple you might wonder why I am even posting about it. It’s what some of my fellow bloggers might call a ‘non-recipe’. And yet, the frullato is so essential to the Italian summertime food culture that it would be malpractice not to mention it. And besides, it’s delightful.
A frullato di frutta, or Italian fruit smoothie, is nothing more than chopped up fruit blended together with milk (or, less commonly, orange juice) and ice, sweetened with a bit of sugar or simple syrup. All you really need is a reasonably powerful standing or hand immersion blender and your frullato will be ready, quite literally, in seconds. It makes a great ‘pick me up’ on a sweltering afternoon.
For each serving:
- A medium-sized piece of fruit, peeled and cut into large chunks
- A few ice cubes
- Cold milk, to cover
- Superfine sugar or simple syrup, to taste
Put the cut up fruit and ice cubes in a blender or, if using a hand immersion blender, into its beaker or a tall glass. Add enough milk just to cover the ingredients and, if you like, a spoonful of two or sugar or syrup, just enough to enhance the fruit flavor. A proper frullato should not be cloyingly sweet.
Blend until perfectly smooth and serve your fruit smoothie immediately.
Obviously, the character and quality of a fruit moothie will depend almost entirely on the fruit you choose. For best flavor and a smooth texture, it is best to use very ripe fruit. In fact, this is a great way to use fruit that has gone past its prime for eating whole, like speckled or even bruised bananas. The most common fruits for making frullati are probably strawberries and bananas, but just about any fruit can do the trick: blueberries or other types of frutti di bosco are really nice, as are summer fruits peaches or melons. For a more exotic frullato, a nice, ripe mango would be a great choice. I’ve even seen frullati made from oranges and other citrus fruits.
While I’m not usually a fan of skim or part-skim milk, I find that they actually works better in frullati. A fruit smoothie made with whole milk, while delicious, can be a bit too rich and ponderous, especially when using an already creamy fruit like bananas. As mentioned, you can use fruit juice instead of milk if you want to avoid dairy or simply feel like a change of pace. (Orange juice is usual but apple juice would also do fine).
The addition of a sweetener is pretty standard, although you don’t really need it if your fruit is very ripe and flavorful. But, alas, a lot of our fruit does not fit that description. I prefer to use simple syrup, which is very easy to make and lasts forever in the fridge, as it gives the drink a very smooth finish. If you do use sugar, better to use superfine or ‘caster’ sugar; regular sugar tends to give the frullato a slight ‘gritty’ mouthfeel. Honey is a nice, natural alternative as well.
Some folks like to add fresh herbs like sweet basil or mint to their fruit smoothie. I’ve never tried this but it does sound rather nice.