During the summer, our kitchen counters are consistently full of juicy, refreshing fruits. And if you’re anything like us, the ones that hands-down see the most chopping block action are, admittedly, three warm-weather standbys: watermelon (always on hand to nibble on scorching days), pineapple (when you need that tropical twist in nearly any dish) and mango (a go-to sub for sugary desserts and A++ margarita mixer). Yes, we’re obviously creatures of habit, but we’re also constantly on the lookout for new twists on old-time faves, which is why we were floored when we tried these three these brand-new ways to eat our favorite summer fruits.


The mind-blowing comes courtesy of Natalia Bushyager and Leigh Loper, the owners and head chefs of San Francisco’s Picnic on Third, a culinary cafe with a daily changing menu that’s quickly become a lunchtime destination among the tech startup set. We visited the self-proclaimed lady chefs at their restaurant to pick their brains about easy ways to take your summer fruit plate to the next level, and they more than delivered with these three-ingredient recipes. Get ready to lick your lips and impress your guests — these are the dishes you need to put out on your picnic table for the rest of summer.

Watermelon With Cocoa Nibs + Sea Salt

Pairing watermelon with savory fare like mozzarella and basil is so 2014. The cocoa nibs add a surprising depth and richness while the salt brings out even more flavor (+ makes each bite even juicier, if you can believe!).


What was your inspiration for this combo?
 “Natalia and I used to make a salad at Foreign Cinema with melon, goat cheese, cumin, cocoa nibs and sea salt,” Leigh said. “This is a stripped-down riff on the dish.”

Why do the flavors work?
 “The crunch and savoriness of the cocoa nibs, along with the sea salt, accentuate the sweetness of the watermelon.”


This dish is perfect for…
 “Munching on with cocktails.”

Pineapple With Mint Sugar

You’ve probably had this flavor combination in a beachy cocktail before, but nibbling it is a totally different experience. Somehow, the mint sugar (1 bunch mint + 1/2 cup sugar ground in a food processor or in a mortar and pestle) makes the pineapple not as cloyingly sweet. In other words, once you take a bite, you’ll be pounding this treat all summer long.


What was your inspiration for this combo?
 “I saw Jamie Oliver(!) make this ages ago on TV and it stuck with me,” Leigh said.

Why do the flavors work?

“The sugar actually mellows out the acid in the pineapple to that the mint flavor comes forward. Super refreshing!”


This dish is perfect for…

“A light dessert.”

Mango With Chile Lime Salt

When mango is sprinkled with the culinary equivalent of fairy dust (aka a less-than-$1 blend of spicy seasoning you can pick up at your local grocery store), the fruit strikes the kind of perfect sweet-savory balance that makes your mouth water. Plus, can we talk about how cool this hedgehog cut is?


What was your inspiration for this combo?
 “Fruit vendors in the Mission [neighborhood of San Francisco] season their wares with the same chile lime salt — we love the way the heat and acid make the flavor of the mango really pop,” Leigh said.

Why do the flavors work?
 “It’s all about the contrast!”


This dish is perfect for…
 “Serving as a side dish with tacos.”

What are the most unexpected ways you eat your favorite foods? Share your recipes + weird flavor combos in the comments below.

(Photos via Kurt Andre)