Ambrosia, the food of the gods. Greek gods were said to have consumed ambrosia for vitality and immortality. A dish that references divine beings and extravagance, you would think to be really exotic and other worldly. Really, that is not the case. Ambrosia salad that is made the old school way is just a mound of marshmallows with some canned fruit tossed in there. As a kid it really was one of my all time favorite treats, it was on so many holiday tables. I always looked forward to the gigantic mounds of green that were freckled with vibrant red cherries and pecans. The cloud like texture and subtle sweetness are truly otherworldly or one might say “heavenly.” A coincidence? I think not.
While there are plenty of canned fruits that are higher in quality I still always try to use fresh or frozen fruits whenever possible, so naturally this family favorite is a little different every time. Typically, pineapple and maybe preaches are the only fruit I have on hand, of course a fruit cocktail can be used if you have it. (it is the traditional way after all) My simplest variation of ambrosia isn’t really “ambrosia,” as much as it is a simple fruit salad with yogurt dressing. Without the marshmallows it’s not the same at all, but it also isn’t as sugary and it is more of a breakfast food than dessert. Seasonal, summery, light and fresh, ambrosia is great if you’ve just got a few pantry staples laying around, it’s a fabulous way to dress up fruit. While a mound of creamy fruit or softened marshmallows might not make you live forever, it can make you wish you could!
Yogurt/Sour Cream Dressing
This yogurt dressing is a super easy toss up of just a few things. Use this for either variety of ambrosia salad. You can use sour cream or yogurt, kefir might even be nice. If you are making the traditional version with marshmallows the sour cream is nice to balance out the sweetness. Really the sourness is not off putting at all, in fact one of my favorite ice creams uses sour cream. Add citrus zest, cardamom or creamed pistachio’s to really make this dish extra special.
- 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (Or Sour Cream)
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (or coconut milk)
- 1-2 tablespoons Raw Honey
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt
-Combine ingredients until smooth. *Do this in a medium large bowl and toss your ambrosia ingredients into the mixed dressing*
Nouveau Ambrosia Fruit Salad
- 1 apple or pear, peeled and diced (You can Gently steam it for more softness)
- 3/4 cup pistachio’s chopped
- 1/2 cup husk cherries
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1-2 tangerines or clementines seeded and diced
- Yogurt Dressing, Dried or Other Fruits as Desired
- Combine dressing in a large bowl.
- Toss fruit into the yogurt dressing. Serve cold.
Note: I freeze pomegranate seeds in fall. I buy a few cases of pomegranates over the course of the season and store them for the rest of the year. In many places pomegranates are available all year around. If pomegranates aren’t available try dried cranberries or goji berries for a boost of antioxidants!
Classic Ambrosia Salad A-K-A Marshmallow Salad
If you can’t find natural marshmallows and you don’t want to make your own, meringue cookies can be used. I have found a few varieties of marshmallows that are gluten free and marketed as halal or kosher but they are not exactly amazing. Use a Tropical Fruit Salad with lime zest in the dressing, or keep it simple with just vanilla and marshmallows, we really like the coconut and pineapple combo. Use what fruit you have on hand and blend the flavors to suit your families tastes. Pistachio’s or pecans and often coconut are traditionally added to ambrosia salad but with nut allergies and picky kids I typically have to choose between one or the other, or none at all.
- 1 1/2 cups natural marshmallows cut into 1/2″ cubes (or Miniature Marshmallows)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups Shredded Coconut toasted or sweetened as you like
- 1 clementine, tangerine or 1/2 of an orange diced up (and seeded)
- 1 cup husk cherries
- 1-2 cups pineapple, Organic Pineapple Chunksand/or Freeze Dried Pineapple
- 1/3 cup Dried Cherries (Or Cranberries)
- Yogurt Dressing
- In a large bowl combine dressing ingredients.
- Toss together all remaining ingredients and any additional fruit you like. A hand full of this and that will work just fine. (My youngest loves bananas, my oldest loves pineapple)
- Refrigerate, covered for 20 minutes or overnight. This allows the marshmallows to absorb the dressing. The longer it rests the more cohesive it gets.
-I love to use husk cherries for fruit salads, it is especially divine with the marshmallows, creamy yogurt, pineapple and coconut. A husk cherry is a unique fruit that tastes kind of like a pineapple, mango, apple, tomato and a grape all in one. They are a seasonal treat that I can pick up at the CSA only for a few weeks during the summer. I freeze as many as I can or preserve them. (If you can’t find husk cherries green grapes will work as a substitute.)