Ambrosia… the food of the gods. If there’s one thing I remembered from reading Greek mythology, it was that they ate ambrosia. Honestly, my elementary school brain had no idea what that even meant, but it sounded good! And I’m totally aging myself here, but as a kid I also remember watching the movie Edward Scissorhands and seeing the sultry neighbor offer him some ambrosia (and probably more). It’s amazing how memories form around the strangest things.
Ambrosia is a southern classic, and I hesitate to call it a fruit salad, but at it’s base, that’s what it is. The key is taking advantage of the winter citrus bounty and turning it into a bright and colorful addition to the winter dinner table. While winter may be a bleak time for most gardens, this tropical mixture of citrus, pineapple, and coconut reminds us that good things can be found year round. This winter delight can be served as a side dish at dinner, as dessert, or on top of yogurt for a quick breakfast or snack. The possibilities are endless!
I recently watched my mom and grandmother put this salad together. With agile fingers, dripping with sticky orange and tangelo juices, they crafted a heavenly bowl of goodness that was enjoyed by everyone at Christmas dinner. No matter how delicious the cheesy potatoes or smoked beef tenderloin was, everyone had room for the fresh citrus and tropical flavors of ambrosia.
While there are many different recipes for ambrosia out there, I like to stick as close to fresh as possible. This means no Cool Whip and no maraschino cherries (sorry, Mom). Most “classic” versions include those bright red, sugary orbs you find in a jar, but I argue that they’re not really cherries anymore but are candy instead. And since I’d prefer not to have candy in a salad, I sub them out for red grapes. This still gives the salad a pop of color, without the food coloring. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 pineapple, cubed (or you can use 1 large can pineapple chunks in juice, drained)
4-5 oranges or tangelos (or 8-10 mandarins)
2 cups grapes, halved
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
(Optional: sliced bananas, if you’re serving right away and not expecting leftovers)
- Peel and separate orange segments. Then cut in half. Place pieces in a large bowl.
- Halve grapes and add to bowl. Core and cut pineapple into bite-sized chunks and add to salad. Mix well.
3. Once salad is mixed, sprinkle on coconut flakes and toss. (Optional: You can also add sliced bananas to keep the tropical theme going, but your salad needs to be eaten immediately and not stored for long in the fridge.. brown bananas are no fun!)
4. Fix yourself a big bowl and enjoy the fruits of winter!
This crowd-pleasing salad is a wonderful way to use up those winter citrus fruits. I’d love to know how you like to put oranges and tangelos to good use this time of year! Happy gardening!
Posted on Full Plate Thursday
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