There seems to be ample evidence that many of my favorite side dishes could almost double as a dessert--I've posted several that have plain ol' granulated sugar as an ingredient (exhibits A, B, D, M, and R, for starters). I must have a sweet tooth or something.
Another sweet and awesome accompaniment to your main course is ambrosia, also appropriately known as the food of the gods. While there's not actually any granulated sugar in it, it's super sweet from all the fantastic fruit (and magical marshmallows) scattered throughout. In writing this post, I've only just found out that many recipes call for whipped topping, which would make it even more dessert-like, but my mom never did that step, so neither do I*. Several recipes call for maraschino cherries too, but I prefer tart, un-maraschino-ed cherries--the other ones always seem so artificial to me.
You can use sour cream or plain yogurt to moisten this dish, and I've tried both with great success. I've even used vanilla yogurt before, but I must admit that it took the sweetness to a level that was just a bit too high, even for me. It's very important that you drain the canned fruit extremely well--I dump it into a colander and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. If you don't, that liquid separates from everything else in the dish and makes the whole thing messy and unappealing. I'm speaking from experience here, folks.
Toss in whatever type of nut you like; my selection usually depends on what I have on hand. Walnuts and pecans are both excellent, but I'm sure sliced almonds would be equally delightful. The important thing to remember regarding the nuts is to hold off on adding them until you're ready to serve. They don't turn completely soggy, but they do lose some of their wonderful crunch the longer they're mixed into the dish.
There are endless ways to personalize this dish, and I have a strong suspicion that it'll always turn out tasty, regardless of your combination of components. You can't really go wrong with something made with fruit, nuts, and a creamy sauce (oh, and MARSHMALLOWS).
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained really well
- 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained really well
- 1 cup red or green grapes, halved
- 1 cup tart cherries, pitted (obviously)
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, more or less to the wetness you desire
Combine the marshmallows, oranges, pineapple, grapes, cherries, and coconut in a large bowl and stir to mix.
Add the sour cream or yogurt and mix well, adding more if you feel compelled to do so, then cover the dish and refrigerate for at least an hour or two before adding the nuts and serving. As you might expect, this dish doesn't keep particularly well, but I don't think that will be a problem.