Recipe: Rainbow Fruit Salad with Lemon Balm Syrup and Coconut Whipped Cream

Recipe: Rainbow Fruit Salad with Lemon Balm Syrup and Coconut Whipped Cream

This easy, fresh fruit salad recipe the PERFECT recipe to make for a barbeque or potluck, either as a side dish or a light dessert.

It’s definitely barbeque season, and as much as I love those heavenly grilled meats, delicious potato salads, and yummy baked beans, I often find myself craving something a little lighter. This healthy fruit salad recipe is just the trick—without being boring or predictable.  The lemon balm simple syrup makes a beautiful fruit salad dressing that gives this pretty dish a little extra pizzaz.

It’s great for people watching their calories, it’s gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free and egg-free. It’s also a great kids’ fruit salad recipe—they love the rainbow colors and dipping the fruit into the fluffy coconut cream.  And you could even make it sugar-free if you omit the simple syrup (or substitute with your favorite sugar alternative, like agave nectar).

Basically, it’s an all-around party all-star, and one you should definitely have in your repertoire.

The key to making this dish feel fancier than your average fruit salad is layering the fruit by color; the straight-sided trifle bowl works really well for this, but you can use any glass dish you have.

I’ve put the exact fruit I used in the recipe, but feel free to substitute with whatever is on sale.  As a summer pot-luck dish, this is actually also really affordable if you shop the sales!

Recipe: Rainbow Fruit Salad with Lemon Balm Syrup and Coconut Whipped Cream
Recipe Type: Dessert, Side Dish
Serves: 8–12
A beautiful layered fruit salad, perfect for barbeques or pot lucks. Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free and totally delicious.
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C lemon balm, packed
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 4 kiwi, sliced into half moons
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large or 2 small mangos, cubed
  • 1 small seedless watermelon, cubed
  1. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and allow to chill at least two hours.
  2. Chiffonade or finely mince 2 T of lemon balm. Reserve the rest for the syrup.
  3. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until all the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat and add unchopped lemon balm. Allow to cool completely.
  4. Chop all the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Create layers of fruit based on color, beginning with the blueberries at the bottom, then dribble 1–2 T of the lemon balm simple syrup over each layer. Place slices of kiwi flat against the sides of the bowl to create the green layer, and fill in the middle with banana slices; drizzle with syrup. (Bananas should not show.) Continue with pineapple and mango, filling in the middle as needed with watermelon chunks and drizzling each layer with syrup. Finish with watermelon and sprinkle 1 T chopped lemon balm over the top for garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Remove coconut milk from the refrigerator; the milk should have separated into thick white “cream” at the top and clearish water at the bottom. Skim off the thick, white part of the milk and reserve the clear part for another use.
  6. Place the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at high speed for 4–5 minutes, or until thick and fluffy like whipped cream. Add up to 1/4 cup of simple syrup at around minute 2 to achieve desired sweetness. Toss in the remaining chopped lemon balm at the last minute.
  7. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This dish is easily made paleo by omitting the simple syrup or replacing with an approved sugar substitute.

If you can’t find lemon balm, you can also substitute mint or basil.

Substitue any colorful fruits that are in season including (but not limited to): purple and green grapes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, oranges, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, etc. Simply arrange the fruits in rainbow order and use the more plentiful or less expensive fruits (ie: bananas, melons) to fill in the middle.

This easy fresh fruit salad and the accompanying whipped coconut cream were a HUGE hit at a Memorial Day barbeque I attended—thrown by one of my foodie friends and with TONS of restaurant reviewers, food writers, chefs, and others from the food world in attendance.  Funny how something so simple can be so impressive!

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