recipeFruit salad is often the answer to what to serve on the hottest days, but it is also a great treat while tailgating. It is also ideal for a light lunch or mid-day snack. It is one of the few dishes appropriate for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, not to mention dessert. The everyday way to make fruit salad is to mix peak-of-season fruits in a large bowl and toss them together with a little lemon juice to preserve their color.

This recipe is one of my favorite fruit salads. Tropical fruits are mixed together with a sprinkling of toasted coconut. You can serve this alone or with a big dollop of your favorite yogurt. You could also serve this salad with a scoop of coconut sorbet for a refreshing dessert.

Here are a few more creative combinations:

1 Using a melon baller, make melon balls from watermelon (red and yellow, if possible), Crenshaw melons and orange honeydew melons. Flavoring the mixed melon salad with a passion fruit liqueur is especially good. Serve the salad in a big glass bowl decorated with mint sprigs. A good creamy dressing to serve on the side is plain yogurt blended with crème fraîche and flavored with a few drops of the same liqueur.

2 Slice peeled Babcock peaches in half and remove the pit. The flesh of this delicious peach is creamy white with red streaks running through it. Fill the centers of the peaches with raspberries and finish with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprig of mint.

3 Combine peeled and diced papaya with diced avocado, and dress with lemon juice. In the Caribbean, the papaya seeds are served with the papaya and much enjoyed for their peppery taste. Add them to the mixture for an interesting change.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Toasted Coconut

Serves 6

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1 inch chunks

• Juice of 1 lime

• Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the coconut on a baking pan and toast for about 5 minutes, or until golden but not burnt. Cool.

2. Place cut fruit into a large bowl. Add the lime and mix to combine. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the fruit just before serving. Garnish with mint and serve in small plates or bowls.

Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at seriouslysimple.com