Cryin’ Pepper Fruit Salad

I love fresh fruit. It’s sweet. It’s colorful. It’s refreshing. And you can do just about anything with it.
I have to admit I would never have thought of putting pepper on it until I met Mary Cantu.
Smart, energetic, and fun, Mary is the co-chair of the Mount Holyoke Club of San Antonio. The club imported me for a cooking session last June, and Mary couldn’t have been a better hostess.
Knowing the way to a food writer’s heart, she took me out to a memorable lunch followed by a whirlwind trip to Central Market.
When I wrote about the strawberry lemonade at Central Market I said that if the store had existed when I was in graduate school in Texas I probably would never have left the state—and I stand by my words.
It’s an exciting grocery store, one that takes pride in offering a variety of fresh foods and letting the shopper know where those foods were grown and raised.
Coming from New England, where fresh produce was only just starting to appear in farmstands, I was completely bowled over by the gorgeous ripe blueberries, corn, and peaches on the shelves there.
As we were touring San Antonio Mary described one of her favorite desserts. In both Texas and California, she told me, restaurants and farmers-market vendors are now increasingly serving fruit salad with a hint of spice instead of sugar.
Mary was kind enough to send me a pepper blend specially created for fruit salad. Unfortunately, I’m out of it and don’t know where to get more—so I am currently resorting to cayenne. She also sent me a recipe, which I have lost.
Luckily, the basic components of this salad are pretty simple–fresh fruit, lime, and a hint of pepper.
Be very careful! The first time I tried the cayenne I put in too much. My nephew Michael immediately dubbed the result “cryin’ pepper salad.” If you add pepper sparingly, however, the salad may well inspire you to dance around the kitchen.

The Salad
6 cups chopped fresh fruit (preferably not berries; I used pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, and mango)
the juice of 1 large lime
cayenne pepper to taste (begin with a tiny pinch)
a pinch of sea salt (optional)
In a large bowl stir together the fruit and lime juice. Add a pinch of cayenne and taste the mixture. Add a little more cayenne if you think the fruit can handle it.
At the last minute stir in the salt. (I think it makes the salad a little sweeter.)
Serves 6.

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8 Responses to “Cryin’ Pepper Fruit Salad”

  1. Janice Sorensen says:

    I have, in the last year only, discovered the beauty of black pepper on fruit. Especially, peaches with black pepper (and a bit of balsamic and maple syrup).

  2. Donna says:

    I was introduced to this while visiting my roommate in Mexico. At the mercado, you can have fresh fruit of all varieties (melons, mango, pineapple) sliced fresh and lime and pepper added. It’s delicious! Thank you for reminding me of this great treat.

  3. Mattenylou says:

    Hmmm, I’ve put salt on fruit, but never pepper… I’ll give it a try! We eat a lot of fresh fruit, it may be a nice zippy change!

  4. Ramona says:

    We used to say you could tell you were from southwest Iowa if you put salt AND pepper on your cantaloupe.

  5. Grad says:

    Tinky, give Michael a big pat on the back for that name! How clever of him to come up with Cryin Pepper. I love red pepper or red pepper flakes on just about everything.

  6. tinkyweisblat says:

    Golly, Janice, I’ll have to try that when we get peaches. Donna, I envy you the Mexican mercado experience. Mattenylou, let me know how you like it! Grad, Michael appreciated the kudos. And Ramona … I guess I’m from southwest Iowa and didn’t even know it!

  7. When I was a child, I had an ‘Aunt’ Mary (she was a friend of my Granny’s who had been Aunt mary to my Dad as well). She sprinkled pepper on strawberries – which back then I thought was strange! I now have a friend who likes balsamic vinegar with strawberries —- me, I like cream!!

  8. tinkyweisblat says:

    Gosh, Frayed, I’m with you on the strawberries–although now you’ve got me curious. I may just try the balsamic come strawberry season.