The name may sound scary, but dragon fruit is one of the HOTTEST and trendiest fruits in our Specialty Produce section at Nino’s.
Not only is it beautiful on the outside, with all of its pink and rose colors and almost floral-like shape, but on the inside, dragon fruit’s flesh, speckled with black seeds, almost invites you to dig in to see what this exotic fruit is all about.
Grown on six continents, dragon fruit is native to Central and South America, where it is known as Pitaya or Pitahaya. The dragon fruit flesh can be varying degrees of white, red, or magenta, depending upon its variety.
Despite the dragon fruit’s health benefits (The red-fleshed varieties contain lycopene, which is a natural antioxidant known to fight cancer and heart disease and lower blood pressure.), and its spectacular appearance, the fruit has gone virtually unnoticed for centuries.
Today, dragon fruit is the leading fruit export of Vietnam. It has even caught the attention of Snapple, Tropicana, and Sobe, just a few of the major labels that have incorporated dragon fruit into their bottled fruit drinks.
The fruit is popular eaten chilled out of hand and is also used to flavor drinks and pastries. Its unopened flower buds are also cooked and eaten as vegetables.
For my money, I think the best way to enjoy dragon fruit is to cut it in half and eat the inner flesh with a spoon, just as if it were a custard (which, by the way, is somewhat similar to its actual texture), but if you’d like a recipe to enjoy this unusual fruit, here is one that I think you’ll enjoy:
Dragon Fruit Salad With Mango, Mint and Lemongrass
Makes 2 Salads
1 Dragon Fruit, Peeled and Flesh Cut in 1” Pieces 1 Mango, Peeled, De-Seeded, Cut in 1” Pieces ¼ Cup Fresh Cherries (Pitted and Halved) 8 to 10 Fresh Mint Leaves, Chopped 1 Lime, Juiced 2 TBSP Honey 1 TBSP Lemongrass, Tender Stalk Part, Minced 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil (Optional)
Place the cut dragon fruit, mango and halved cherries in a serving bowl and chill.
In a separate small bowl, prepare a dressing by whisking together the mint, lime juice, honey, lemongrass and optional toasted sesame oil.
Pour the dressing over the fruits and serve.
Whether you enjoy this delicious, sub-tropical fruit plain or as part of a medley of other fruits, I think you’ll find it a wonderful new addition to this summer’s recipe box!