Ambrosia Salad– food of the gods?
This past Christmas Eve–amidst sugarcoated squash, smelly cheeses, jellied figs, and rows and rows of dulces–sat an unassuming ambrosia salad, or a salad of the gods. Cool whipped creamy, canned fruit magnificence. When I asked the guest who brought this surprising addition to our Christmas table, he unabashedly answered that his mother had made this salad for nearly every occasion.
Growing up in the South, I saw this dish at nearly every neighborhood barbeque and block party. I grew to love it, to seek it out, always hoping it would make an appearance. Along with my mother’s potato salad, it reminded me of freely running barefoot across hot concrete with my friends and siblings all through the long summers, usually only stopping long enough to stick our toes into the melted tar that divided our suburban streets. We did a lot of nothing, getting into the type of trouble I wish I could find myself in today—four wheeling and BB gun accidents notwithstanding.
Here’s a new and improved tribute to those lazy Southern summers with plenty of in season, ripe fruit, heaping cups of freshly grated coconut, and a hearty crust of chopped raw macadamia nuts and almonds. Should you decide to use the coconut cream in place of the fresh whipped cream, then this would be a totally “raw” salad.
An ambrosia salad is a typical Southern side dish, commonly made with Cool Whip, marshmallows, and Jell-O. This updated recipe calls for less than the usual amount of whipped topping, organic freshly whipped cream just to accent the fruit salad. If you’re looking for a non-dairy substitute, I’ve used coconut cream, a combination of young coconut meat and juice, with good results. The large shreds of mature coconut and nuts is what adds the richness to this dish.
- 2 cups fresh cut pineapple
- 1 1/2 cup fresh cut mango
- 1 cup fresh navel orange or Clementine wedges
- 1 pint of fresh blueberries
- 2 sliced bananas
- 1/2 cup fresh organic whipped cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup young coconut meat
- 1/4 cup young coconut juice
- 2 cups freshly grated mature coconut meat
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
In a large bowl, combine chopped fruit: fresh navel oranges, pineapple, bananas, blueberries, and mangos.
To make the coconut cream, combine the coconut meat with juice in a blender, and puree until blended. The consistency will be thick and syrupy. Fold in either the whipped cream or coconut cream.
Garnish with chopped almonds, macadamia nuts and fresh grated (mature) coconut meat. Chill for 1 hour or overnight.