Ambrosia is one of those mysterious dishes that would show up at picnics and pot lucks all throughout my childhood, but was rarely seen anywhere else. It was a concoction that incorporated lots of fruit and mini marshmallows in a sweet, creamy sauce. The “sauce” portion usually involved something like sour cream, mayonnaise, Cool Whip or whipped cream. As a kid, I liked that fact that it was sweet and had mini marshmallows in it. Recently, I was at a gathering where someone brought (store bought) ambrosia as a nostalgic treat – and it was actually pretty darn good. I still like those mini marshmallows, after all.
Ambrosia makes a nice change from the usual fruit salad and it’s fun to eat, so I wanted to make a version of it at home that used a healthy, creamy base and lots of fruit. My version starts with plain, Greek-style yogurt. My childhood versions usually included various types of canned fruits and mandarin orange segments. I opted for more tropical fruit in my updated version. I used fresh papaya, mango and pineapple, as well as shredded coconut (canned fruit is still fine, but try to use a brand packed in fruit juice and drain it well before using). I added mini marshmallows and sweetened everything with honey, to taste.
I love all the elements in this dish and, while it actually still makes a great potluck lunch dish, it is also a great alternative to a simple snack of fruit-and-yogurt. I will make a single serving version just for myself, or double this recipe if I’m serving a group. You can vary the fruits according to your tastes or what you have on hand, as well. The salad is better if it sits for at least an hour before serving to let the marshmallows soften and the flavors meld, so make a batch in advance and store it in the refrigerator before serving.
Tropical Fruit Ambrosia with Yogurt
2 cups plain, greek-style yogurt (any kind)
1/2 cup fresh papaya, diced
1/2 cup fresh mango, diced
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
4 tbsp honey, or to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and fold together with a spatula until well combined. Add more honey to sweeten, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.