Macedonia di frutta, or Italian fruit salad, is one of the most typical of summer desserts in Italy, often served with some lemon sorbet. But a macedonia can be made any time of year, with almost any combination of fruits in season.
- Fresh fruit in season, trimmed, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
NB: This is one recipe where measurements will do more harm than good, so none are given. Just use enough sugar to lightly coat the fruit you are using, and enough lemon juice to melt the sugar and produce a light ‘sauce’. For a medium bowl of fruit, you might try 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and the juice of one medium lemon, as a general rule of thumb. But trust your eyes and your taste buds over anything else!
Toss the cut up fruit together with sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Taste the combination: if too sweet, add a bit more lemon juice, if too tart, add a bit more sugar, bearing in mind that both tend to mellow after maceration.
Let the fruit macerate for about 30 minutes in the fridge and there you have it! A marvellously refreshing way to end a meal.
The combination of fruits, as I said, is endlessly variable, but it is pretty typical to include bananas and—especially in the Fall and Winter—apples or pears in an Italian fruit salad. In the summer, stone fruits, especially peaches, are a popular addition. Kiwi is also very popular, any time of year. (By the way, did you know that Italy is now the world’s largest producer of kiwi?)
The sugar and lemon treatment can be used, as well, with single fruits, especially all sorts of berries. It is particularly good (and popular in Italy) to treat fragoline di bosco, or wild strawberries, if you are lucky enough to find some. By the way, you will find that after you leave the salad to macerate for a while, the sugar melts and the sour taste of the lemon juice, by some magical alchemy, is replaced by fruits that taste more intensely of themselves and lovely ‘syrup’. This treatment does wonders for the rather insipid fresh fruit one finds at the supermarket these days. And it sends really good, ripe fruits from the farmers market into celestial orbit!
Most fruits can be prepped ahead of time, but don’t dress the salad until you’re almost ready to eat, especially if you’re using white fruits like bananas, apples or pears, which tend to bruise and discolor if left to macerate too long. The best strategy, I find, is to dress the salad just before serving dinner. By the time that dessert comes around, it should be just ready to serve.
For an extra fillip of flavor, you can add a bit of liquor to your Italian fruit salad before serving. Tonight, in fact, I added a splash of Cointreau to my macedonia. Very nice. If serving the fruit on its own, you can add add white or red wine as well. Red wine goes particularly well with strawberries made this way, and is called fragole al vino rosso.