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Tropical Fruit Ambrosia

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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.

Serves 4.

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  • Katie Rose
    April 17, 2011

    Oooh! I haven’t had this in forever! My mom used to make it all the time for potluck supers at church and no one else ever knew what I was talking about when I mentioned it. I’ve never made it myself, maybe I’ll have to make some up and relive a bit of my childhood 🙂

  • Linda
    April 17, 2011

    My mom traditionally made it for Christmas but none of the creamy part or marshmallows. Her’s was all fruit and fresh grated coconut. Maybe because Christmas is so limited for fruit, it always tasted perfect and fresh. I’ve had salads similar to this one but not called ambrosia. I like that you use fresher fruits like fresh pineapple instead of canned but canned isn’t too bad. I recently tried an acini de pepe salad that is very similar to this using the pasta like a large firm tapioca in the salad. It was very good. If you have never tried that you might want to try it–very similar to your ambrosia.

  • Shannon
    April 17, 2011

    My grandmother always made the whipped cream, marshmallow and canned fruit type when we were growing up. Not too long ago a coworker brought in ambrosia. It was AMAZING. She included walnuts with the shredded coconut, which I’d never had before in ambrosia. The nuts added a nice crunch to it. I’ll have to try my own with yogurt and fresh fruits now!

  • rose
    April 18, 2011

    an interesting Monday duo!!! Greek yogurt was a great suggestion…yum!

  • Judy
    April 18, 2011

    Another old-time favorite! And you like your ‘new twist’ with fresh tropical fruits and yogurt.

    I’m smiling…that we posted such similar recipes today.
    Judy @ http://mennonitegirlscancook.blogspot.com/2011/04/glorified-rice.html

  • Kym
    April 19, 2011

    My aunt makes this every Easter and will call me to ask me for the recipe. Even though I have never made it. LOL

  • Joy
    April 21, 2011

    Great twist to ambrosia

  • Kat
    January 14, 2012

    we’ve always used the old stand-by Jello ‘watergate salad’ recipe – pistachio instant pudding, cool whip, can of pineapple, jar of cherries, (& the juice of both), mini marshmallows & sometimes coconut, depending on who’s eating it – i love the idea of using yogurt (& that its not green!).

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