Mixed Berry Salad with Basil and Pepper is a refreshing summer fruit salad. The unexpected flavors of basil and pepper make it a great dish to bring along to picnics, served at breakfast or as an easy snack. It is especially delicious served on top of coconut whipped cream for a luscious and healthy dessert.
This berry salad with fresh basil just screams summer. Basil is a scent that literally makes me weak in the knees. After a winter full of sub-par supermarket basil, I get a bit weepy when my nose smells fresh garden basil for the first time each summer. You think I'm being dramatic. But I am not. My love affair with basil is full-fledged.
Now, pepper in your fruit does sound a bit odd, I admit. But, it pairs wonderfully with peppery basil and sweet fresh berries. I don't even care for black pepper on most foods, but it works in this fruit salad, and it is delicious.
How to make Berry Basil & Pepper Fruit Salad
This salad comes together in a snap, and requires just a short rest in the fridge to allow the basil and pepper flavors to mingle with the berries.
First, finely chop the basil and place it in a large bowl. Next, add the black pepper, and just a little sugar or other granulated sweetener like coconut sugar. The amount of sugar you add will depend largely on how sweet the berries are on their own. During the peak of summer, you'll need less than a teaspoon. But, if you are making this in the dead of winter because you're craving something summery and can't wait another second, you may want to add up to a tablespoon or more. Adjust according your taste.
So, now that you have your basil, sugar and black pepper in a bowl, use a silicone spatula to mash the basil into the sugar and pepper. Do this for about a minute until the basil looks wet, sandy and thoroughly bruised. (Kind of like my kids after a day at the beach?)
Finally, add your berries to the basil mixture and toss gently to combine. Put the fruit salad in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours. Give it another gentle stir and then serve as desired. I love to serve this on top of coconut whipped cream for a decadent treat.
Tips for making berry fruit salad
This mixed berry salad is delicious with any kind of berry, and I like to use a mixture of colors to create a vibrant dish, Raspberries are fragile, and tend to break down very quickly, so I recommend gently stirring them in after the fruit has already marinated, or simply placing them on top of the salad.
The fruit salad will keep for about 6 hours in the fridge, but after that the berries start to break down and get a little mushy. If this happens, don't throw them away! Add them to a blender with a frozen banana and some plant-based milk for a quick smoothie. Or put them on the stove top and cook gently to create a sauce for ice cream, shortcake or a plain vegan yogurt add-in.
Why do you add sugar to the berries?
The purpose of the sugar in this recipe is to break down the basil to get as much flavor as possible out of it by acting as a sort of sandpaper. If you choose to the leave the sugar out of it, that's okay, the pepper will help to achieve the same result to a lesser extent.
Variations on basil fruit salad
I have made this with peaches, nectarines, plums and sweet cherries when they are at the peak of their season. The pepper and basil both work well with these fruits and I highly recommend playing around with different flavor combinations with in-season fruits.
I hope you enjoy this fruit salad this summer! Have you ever added herbs or spices to a fruit salad? What is your favorite fruit/spice/herb combination?
Berry Fruit Salad with Basil and Pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar or other sweetener, or more to taste*
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, adjust to taste
- 6 cups mixed fresh berries such as strawberries, blackberries or blueberries**
- Add the sugar, basil and black pepper to a large bowl. The amount of sugar you add will depend largely on how sweet the berries are on their own. During the peak of summer, you’ll need less than a teaspoon. But, if you are making this in the dead of winter you may want to add up to a tablespoon or more. Adjust according your taste.
- Use a silicone spatula to mash the basil into the sugar and pepper. Do this for about a minute until the basil looks wet, sandy and thoroughly bruised.
- Add your berries to the basil mixture and toss gently to combine. Put the fruit salad in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours. Give it another gentle stir and then serve as desired. I love to serve this on top of coconut whipped cream for a decadent and healthy treat.
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