Chillied Nectarine, Plum, Lychee, Pineapple and Basil Salad

With Chocolate Dressing, Toasted Coconut

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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This salad can be made from any ripe fruit; it’s the addition of the chilli, basil, chocolate sauce and coconut that gives it a surprise lift and makes it a salad for dessert rather than breakfast. Choose 3–5 fruits that are ripe and in season – mango, papaya, mixed berries and banana also work well. I like to crack open a fresh coconut, peel it into thin strips with a potato peeler and toast them (see below), but you can use desiccated coconut instead. Using the fresh coconut may seem like a lot of effort, but you’ll be rewarded with delicious, freshly cooked coconut, which really is much better than bought desiccated coconut! Use as much chilli as you can handle – when chilli and sugar are combined, the heat of the chilli feels somewhat lessened, and your tongue senses the flavour of the chilli rather more than the heat.


  • ½ medium-hot red chilli, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons juice and ½ teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 or 2 limes
  • 100 g finely grated dark chocolate
  • 3 nectarines, halved, stoned and cut into segments
  • 6 plums, halved, stoned and cut into chunks (I used greengages and red plums)
  • 12 lychees, peeled and stoned
  • ½ sweet baby pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • handful of toasted coconut (see below)


Place the chilli and sugar in a small pan with a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and divide between 2 bowls. To one bowl, add the lime juice and zest; to the other, add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate into the syrup to blend well and put to one side in a warmish place.

Place all the fruit in a large bowl and pour on the lime syrup, mix well and leave to macerate for 1–2 hours in the fridge, mixing twice.

To Serve

Take the fruit from the fridge, mix in the basil and divide between 4 bowls. Stir the chocolate dressing and pour it over the fruit, then sprinkle with the coconut.