Big Little Recipes

A Fruit Salad That's Salty, Savory, Perfect

August 11, 2020

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else—flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst: We don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re making a fruit salad, but not like that.

The word salad usually refers to something vegetal or savory, something to be served alongside roast chicken or baked pasta or grilled cheese—but there are a few exceptions.

Cookie salad is a Midwestern dish consisting of, ahem, cookies, plus fruit, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream. Strawberry pretzel salad is a Southern dessert boasting a pretzel crust, cream-cheese center, and strawberry Jell-O crown. And fruit salad is a mixed bag of chopped fruit that's sometimes dressed, sometimes not.

If you ask someone what “fruit salad” brings to mind, the answer will likely include strawberry quarters, grape halves, melon chunks, kiwi hunks, banana slices. This is a far cry from salad salad, as in crisp produce laced with oil and salt. Let’s change that.

Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.

You could call this Big Little Recipe a fruit salad—and it is! a salad of fruit!—but it looks (and tastes and smells) nothing like a fruit salad in the expected sense.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“By the way, haptodysphoria is the word for an aversion to peach fuzz and other fuzzy fruit. I usually cut a peach into slices so that I don't have to bite directly into the fuzzy skin. ”
— Diane

Instead of including every fruit under the sun and then some, there’s just one stone fruit: peaches (1). You could use nectarines or plums or, really, any fruit that’s ripe, juicy, and in season. But just pick one. By restraining the ingredient list, you can focus less on quantity, more on quality, letting that ingredient really shine, like when a singer strips away the special effects and you feel like, wow, you’re hearing their voice for the first time. (2)

But the real kicker here isn’t the fruit. It’s the dressing. Because summer peaches are practically candy, we’re skipping the honey or simple syrup that often sneaks its way into fruit salads. Instead, we’ll make a savory, bracing vinaigrette—equal parts of olive oil and white wine vinegar—upgraded with mashed anchovies.

Anchovies are always in my kitchen, be it for pantry pasta or Caesar salad or bagna cauda. When added to something sweet, like fruit, this tiny, brawny fish gets to flex its umami strength.

Think of it like when you crumble salt on a brownie or shake vinegar over French fries. Turning up the contrast makes you appreciate all the little things—the fudginess of chocolate, the thrill of a deep-fry, the tanginess of an August peach.

Whatever you call it—fruit salad or fruit salad—this dish would love to hang out with whatever you happen to be serving for lunch or dinner. As with a vegetable salad, it’s a refreshing accompaniment to any main dish, like an unexpected breeze on a sticky, humid day.

(1) As I note in the video above, I inherited an aversion to peach fuzz from my grandma (hi Grandma!). Just writing that, peach fuzz, is giving me goosebumps. Does anyone else have this? Is there a name for it?

(2) Why yes, I have had Taylor Swift's Folklore on repeat! And I would love to chat about it with you in the comments! What’s your favorite song?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynnie
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  • ustabahippie
  • Helen
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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Lynnie October 27, 2020
I just bought a Ripe Peach White Balsamic Vinegar from a winery in Paonia, Colorado. I can't wait to try it with fresh peaches from the same area!
mdelgatty August 15, 2020
Sure getting tired of the Cointreau ad...
ustabahippie August 14, 2020
I make a peach salad out of my Indian cookbook. Lemon juice cayenne salt a speck of sugar cumin. Yum. Eat it fast!
Stephanie G. August 16, 2020
Yum yum
Helen August 14, 2020
I REALLY don’t like peach fuzz. Therefore I always peel or scrub...
dennis August 14, 2020
You are not alone. My lips twitch just thinking about it. My wife laughs :)
Emma L. August 14, 2020
My husband does the same!
Joanne B. August 14, 2020
Love my peaches, hate that fuzz. My fruit purchases get washed as soon as I arrive home from the grocers. Eating peaches always begins with running the peach under cold water and eating the fruit wet. No fuzz issues.
Holland B. August 14, 2020
I agree with the running water defuzz method, though I usually wait to do it just before eating. A light rub of the skin under running water always works for me and it's very quick!
Emma L. August 14, 2020
Wow, gotta try this!
Diane August 13, 2020
I love peaches too and am always looking for new recipes. This one looks delicious and I will be making it. By the way, haptodysphoria is the word for an aversion to peach fuzz and other fuzzy fruit. I usually cut a peach into slices so that I don't have to bite directly into the fuzzy skin.
Emma L. August 14, 2020
Haptodysphoria! Thank you :)
eirroc August 13, 2020
Suggestions of what to use in place of anchovies to make this vegan?
Val August 14, 2020
Try a bit of red miso in place of the anchovies.
eirroc August 14, 2020
Thank you.
Emma L. August 14, 2020
Love the idea of red miso!
Diane August 13, 2020
David August 13, 2020
I am in your bubble, Emma ... except that I tricked my way out, the trick being HOW you eat your fully, fuzzy peach (makes me cringe, that.) Suggested method ... take an adequate bite and then swiftly take a bite through that but not through the skin and then flip the two parts fuzzy-sides together with your tongue. Works a treat for me. Finally can eat peaches which I love! Just sayin'.
Emma L. August 14, 2020
Bonus points for creativity!
Donna T. August 13, 2020
I wish I could find peaches with some fuzz on them
Claire August 13, 2020
I hope you can find them at a farmers market!
Karen K. August 11, 2020
I cannot eat peaches because of the fuzz- but I will eat their cousin nectarines! haptodysphoria(Noun)
An odd sensation felt by certain people when handling peaches or other fuzzy surfaces.
Emma L. August 12, 2020
I have the chills just reading this! So grateful for nectarines.
Claire August 13, 2020
If you make a shallow cross cut on the skin and drop that peach in boiling water for a few seconds, he skin will be very easy to remove and hopefully you will be able to enjoy fuzzless peach!
Lynn D. August 11, 2020
I make something similar but use Red Boat fish sauce instead of anchovies.
Emma L. August 12, 2020