Colombian fruit salad is a mix of fresh tropical fruit, topped with grated cheese, decadent ice cream, and a homemade sweet and tangy sauce of mora - Colombian blackberry. The whole affair is crowned with a sprinkling of grated coconut, creating a melt-in-your-mouth concoction that is equal parts sweet and tropical. This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible.
Doing away with preconceived notions
Most of us think of eating as something pleasurable, necessary, or at the very least nutritious. But it's rare that we think of food as scary, or a chance to face up to our fears and misconceptions. Yet eating food while travelling often becomes exactly that: a chance to open our minds and broaden our horizons.
The first time I learned of Colombian fruit salad, I thought I misheard something.
"You put what in there? Fruit AND cheese? And ice cream? I'm confused."
To be completely honest with you, I thought it was the weirdest sh$t of which I ever heard.
For weeks, I avoided any offer to taste Colombian fruit salad. First, the Colombian restaurant we ate at didn't have it that day. Then, it wasn't fresh enough. Then, I didn't like the fruit they used. Then it was too runny for my liking.
Basically, I avoided every chance to face my fears and broaden my horizons. To me, exotic fruit and hard, grated cheese just didn't go together. And why would you spoil a perfectly good thing by piling on ice cream? And then adding some sauce?
Colombian fruit salad sounded too decadent, too involved and too full of contrasting flavours for my liking.
(Little did I know, that's precisely what made it so good.)
Traveling through rural Colombia
Then on our journey from Bogota to Villa de Leyva, we stopped in a little town called Tunja. Tunja is famous for two grand mansions with some of the most unique artwork in Colombia (think elephants and flying monkeys), and a beautiful, classically Spanish town square.
(NOTE: when planning our Colombian adventures, we used personal knowledge and the 2018 edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia - we highly recommend it over other guides).
Looking for lunch around the town square, my husband proposed we finally try some Colombian fruit salad, and in a moment of rare marital acquiescence, I agreed. We found a little cafe that looked reliable, ordered some fruit salad to go, and sat down to eat our Colombian fruit salad at the heart of the Plaza de Bolívar.
Colombian fruit salad
Colombian fruit salad is a mix of fresh tropical fruit, topped with grated cheese, decadent ice cream, and a homemade sweet and tangy sauce of mora - Colombian blackberry. The whole affair is crowned with a sprinkling of grated coconut, creating a melt-in-your-mouth concoction that is equal parts sweet, sour and tropical.
Upon first bite, I thought the ice cream, grated coconut and mora sauce were great together. Then I tasted cheese, and felt it was a bit weird. Then I had another bite, marrying all the disparate components in my mouth - and that's when I fell in love with Colombian fruit salad.
It took me a few tries to get the proportions I like right, and to find just the right consistency for my mora sauce. I also veganized it, making it a bit softer on the stomach - though you are welcome to use my recipe to make the traditional, dairy-full version.
Either way, this taste of Colombian fruit salad will make you fall in love with the unique sweet, sour and tropical flavour of this vibrant country.
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Colombian fruit salad - Ensalada de frutas Colombiana
For Colombian fruit salad:
- ¼ watermelon peel removed and cubed
- 4 bananas peeled and sliced
- 1 cup strawberries quartered
- ½ pineapple peel removed and cubed
- 4 mangoes peel removed and cubed
- 1 cup green grapes optional, halved
For whipped topping:
- 1 can can coconut cream OR 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 2 TBs sugar if using dairy cream
- For Colombian mora sauce:
- 1 cup frozen Colombian blackberry (mora) pulp
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 pint vegan OR regular vanilla ice cream
- 1 cup shredded vegan OR regular mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shredded coconut toasted
To make Colombian mora sauce:
- Combine water, fruit pulp and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens. Transfer to refrigerator to cool before serving.
To make whipped topping:
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the coconut cream OR heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
To assemble Colombian fruit salad:
- Combine all chopped fruit in a large bowl.
- To serve individual portions, transfer 1 cup of fruit mixture to a bowl.
- Working with a piping bag or just by using a spoon, top individual fruit salad bowls with whipped topping.
- Add 2 TBs of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each fruit salad.
- Place one ball of ice cream in the middle of each individual bowl.
- Pour Colombian mora sauce on top of ice cream until it is fully coated and sauce pours down the fruit.
- Finally, top entire Colombian fruit salad serving with shredded coconut.
- Serve immediately.