Star fruit has been falling from our community garden tree by the buckets lately. It’s astounding how heavily laden the tree is. As a result, garden members have been collecting the fruit for donation to our local food bank. Even with this, we still have starfruit cascading to the ground.
So, today’s salad is my contribution to making sure the beautiful, tender-crisp fruit doesn’t go wasted. It’s incredibly refreshing because the star fruit is chilled before making the salad. Plus, who can resist a sweet, juicy fruit that slices into golden stars? Now that’s a striking sight for sure.
Often when I am creating a recipe, I will look around my garden plot to find the best herb to compliment a dish. Can you take a clue from the recipe title to guess what herb I chose for this salad? Yes, gotu kola is the prize winner here.
Maybe you are wondering why I chose gotu kola? Or perhaps you are even wondering what gotu kola is? Well, gotu kola is an herbaceous perennial native to wetlands in Asia. We are fortunate that it grows wild in the shadier parts of the West Maui mountains. Thus it was easy to find while hiking and transplant in my garden plot.
Interestingly, gotu kola has a reputation as an herb for longevity. It’s also been studied for many other benefits, including cognitive function, stress reduction, and healthy skin. That reputation, along with its pleasantly bitter taste is good enough for me. Still, Gotu kola does more than add nutrition to this salad. I like to slice it into a thin chiffonade. Then it contributes both flavor and vibrant color to this dish.
Now I know all of you may not be wild food foragers or have Asian wetlands to traipse through. Don’t worry. If you don’t have a garden growing gotu kola, or a farmers market selling this choice culinary herb, I’ve got you covered. Your answer is flat-leafed parsley. Medicinal qualities aside, parsley makes a fine seasoning substitute for gotu kola in this salad.
You might also want to know if you don’t have pomegranate kernels, that the salad is spectacularly delicious on its own. All the other ingredients meld together to make a salad balanced with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors in just the right mix. If you want to add a dash of Hawaiian chili water, you might even get a gold star for including all 6 of the tastes in Ayurvedic tradition.
Star Fruit, Celery & Gotu Kola Salad
- 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 TB fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 3 cups chilled, sliced star fruit
- 2 cups thinly sliced celery
- 1/4 cup sliced sweet Maui onion
- 1 cup thinly sliced gotu kola leaves or flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup honey roasted macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup pomegranate kernels optional
- 1 small head butter lettuce
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Slice star fruit crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Slice celery and onion thin. Slice gotu kola leaves into thin slivers.
- Place star fruit, celery, onion and gotu kola in a mixing bowl. Add olive oil dressing and toss very gently just enough to coat.
- Lay whole leaves of butter lettuce on 4 salad plates. Spoon star fruit salad onto lettuce lined plates. Top with macadamia nuts and pomegranate kernels if desired.