Ambrosia means “food of the gods,” but if you’re like me, the image of Ambrosia salad that immediately comes to mind is anything but divine.
I grew up with several versions of the dish, all of which were awful. My family loved Ambrosia, in all of its incarnations, and we had a big bowl of it on every holiday table and at every single family gathering I can remember. I hated the stuff. Usually it involved a slop of canned fruit bound with whipped topping, instant pudding, Jell-o, or cream cheese, and it was almost always studded with bright red, maraschino cherries.
Not appetizing at all.
A few years ago, however, I learned that what we now call Ambrosia Salad didn’t start off that way. It was a simple, light fruit salad that contained little else besides pineapple, oranges, coconut, and nuts. Some people put whipped cream on top. And that was it! I thought a simplified version sounded absolutely delicious. It was a lot healthier than the Ambrosia I grew up with, and it was far more interesting and yummier than a plain old fruit salad. I created my own take on Ambrosia with much success.
My Ambrosia salad works as a side or a dessert, or even a breakfast dish. It can be a meal, a snack, or an accompaniment, and it’s become one of my go-to potluck and holiday staples. Once you try it, it will be for you too. Feel free to improvise. There’s not really a right or a wrong way to make this, and there’s a huge margin for error here. Make it your own (just leave out the pudding for heaven’s sakes.)
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Pineapple
- 1 Cup of Orange Segments (Here is a link to show you how to supreme an orange.) Because I am from the South I will forgive you if you choose to use canned mandarin oranges. The ones from Trader Joes have no added sugar and are actually good.
- 1 Cup of Sliced Strawberries
- 1 Cup of Raspberries or Blueberries (or both, go ahead and get crazy)
- 2 Apples Diced (Don’t even bother to peel them)
- 1 Mango Peeled and Diced
If you would like to add any other fruit, by all means have at it, but this is usually enough for me. Like I said, you can’t mess this up.
- ½ Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
- 1 Cup Shredded Coconut
- Small Squeeze of Lemon or Lime Juice
Combine all of the ingredients in a glass bowl. Let sit for at least an hour so the flavors can meld. Serve chilled. Last about two days covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy in good health!
Here are some ways you can eat your ambrosia:
Eat it plain!
Put it on oatmeal.
Serve with pound cake or shortcake.
Top with whipped cream or whipped coconut milk.
Serve on ice cream or sorbet.
Use it as a side dish.
Make it for dessert. I eat it when I’m having sugar cravings to keep me from eating junk food.
Top a smoothie bowl with it.
Author: Victoria Fedden
Images: via the author
Editor: Renée Picard
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