Ambrosia, the dish we like to call a fruit salad, seems to be a staple on many a Thanksgiving table. Originally a light and simple combination of tropical fruits, it has become an overly concocted combination of canned fruit, marshmallows, whipped cream (real or imitation), sometimes yogurt, and occasionally fresh bananas, grapes, or strawberries get dumped in. Coconuts or pecans might or might not get added, and on our table at least, it must include the ubiquitous maraschino cherries.
This year, think about returning to the original simplicity of the recipe when fresh oranges and pineapples were novel treats. The bright and flavor-filled goodness of the tangy fruit is a refreshing accompaniment to all the heavy dishes on a traditional Thanksgiving table.
Serve 8 to 12
Serve fruit in alternating slices on a platter or cut into small wedges or bite size pieces for a colorful presentation in a glass bowl, individual glass dishes, or goblets.
1 cup sweetened and flaked coconut, divided 6 navel oranges such as Cara Cara or Valencia 1 pineapple
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally until just golden brown, remove and let cool. (Toasted coconut can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month.)
To prepare oranges, slice the rind off each end, then slice down the rind, removing all the pith. Cut the orange into segments, careful to remove the center pith. Cut each segment into desired size.
Trim the top and bottom skin off the pineapple, then trim the skin off the sides. Quarter and remove the woody core. Cut into desired sized pieces.
Assemble fruit, any accumulated juices, and ¾ cup coconut in a large glass mixing bowl and gently toss. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, garnish with reserved coconut.
Tip: While packaged coconut adds convenience to the preparation, you can go all out and purchase a fresh coconut and grate and toast the meat!