Give Fruit Salad An Elegant Upgrade With This Unexpected Pantry Staple

Salads come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. From classic mixed green medleys to yolky bowls of hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise, the defining characteristics of what constitutes a salad are broad and open to interpretation. Among the infinite combinations you can put together to make a salad, one of the easiest and sweetest is a fruit salad. Although a simple melange of fruit is considered a salad, you can round it out with elegance by giving it a drizzle of olive oil — think of it as your salad dressing!

We'll be the first to admit that fruit salad kissed with olive oil sounds like a culinary anomaly, but it works better than you'd think. For starters, olives are a fruit themselves, so you're not straying too far from the core ingredients of the salad. The fruits typically used in a fruit salad are sweet, and by introducing olive oil, you invite a bright, savory, grassy, and slightly peppery depth of flavor that develops a more dynamic and complex palate. With its lush, velvety texture, olive oil also gives fruit salad a richer, silkier mouthfeel.

Some fruits like papaya, cantaloupe, kiwi, and mango boast fat-soluble vitamins — important vitamins that are stored in the body's fatty tissues. Because olive oil is a nutritious source of heart-healthy fat, introducing it to a fruit salad can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Delicious and nutritious, what's not to love?

Which olive oil to use on fruit salad

Olive oil comes in several forms. Although all olive oil is derived from olives, each type has a unique set of characteristics that are worth considering before you select one for your fruit salad. The main olive oil varieties are extra virgin, virgin, pure, and light.

Both virgin and extra virgin olive oil are extracted without heat or chemical solvents, and their differences are marginal. Extra virgin olive oil, which has a markedly bright taste, earns its name if it meets a strict set of standards and flaunts an acidity of 0.8 or less. Virgin olive oil, however, has a slightly higher acidity (0.8 to 2.0) and a milder, less fruity taste.

Pure olive oil is made from virgin olive oils that have been treated to remove defects. Defects occur when the olives used for extraction aren't in perfect condition. The refining process can strip the oil of some of its bold flavors, but pure olive oil is still silky smooth, and luxurious. Plus, it's more affordable than extra virgin olive oil.

Light olive oil is an ultra-refined variety that has a light yellow color, neutral flavor, and a higher smoke point than its siblings. Although you can use it in a fruit salad, it's best for cooking and baking.

Because EVOO is considered the cream of the crop, it's the best selection for fruit salad. However, all olive oils are nutritious, and there isn't a "bad" variety.

Zhuzhing up olive oil fruit salad

Adding a drizzle of olive oil to your fruit salad is enough to elevate the dish. However, some other complementary ingredients pair nicely with both fruit and olive oil. Whether it's grapefruit, lemon, or lime, grated citrus zest is the perfect accompaniment to an olive oil-tinted fruit salad. Because citrus zest flaunts concentrated flavors, it adds a floral brightness to the salad that livens up the rich taste of the oil without distracting from the sweetness of the fruits.

Herbs are an easy, last-minute addition to a bowl of olive oil fruit salad. Simply pluck them from a bushel and toss them into the colorful amalgam of oily fruit. Basil can bring a peppery and slightly sweet taste to the salad, while mint gives it a sharp, cooling sensation, and rosemary gives it a woodsy, earthy punch.

Surprisingly, a dash of sea salt can help bring out the flavors of each fruit in your salad while highlighting the subtleties of the olive oil. If you're feeling particularly bold, introduce a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Its rich, tangy flavor will match some of the characteristics of the fruit while complementing the peppery notes of olive oil.

Although this simple fruit salad hack is just one of many uses for olive oil, it will take your go-to fruit salad recipe to flavorful new heights. Thanks to olive oil, your summer salad rotation just got the upgrade of the season.