My Favorite (Untypical) Thanksgiving Dish

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For most people, Thanksgiving conjures up nostalgic memories. Norman Rockwell’s epic Thanksgiving photo shows a family that is happy and eagerly awaiting the Thanksgiving meal and has come to represent what the holiday means to American citizens.

Of course, the most important part of the holiday is the family and friends that you spend it with. But let’s be honest, it’s the one day of the year that you get to eat food that you don’t normally eat. The one day that you spend hours cooking and want to present the best for family and friends. AND, the one day you throw the diet out the window.

Everyone has a favorite Thanksgiving dish. For me, it’s not a typical dish found at the Thanksgiving table – not represented in Norman Rockwell’s iconic photo.

I love the turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and green bean casserole, and of course the pumpkin and pecan pies. But, my favorite dish is an ambrosia-type salad. While I love the rest of the feast, this is the one dish that conjures images of Thanksgivings past for me.

I had this salad for the first time more than 20 years ago and I loved it. I’m not sure what it was about the salad that I found so fascinating, but it does happen to include many things that I love. Coconut, cherries, marshmallows and pineapple – how could you go wrong? I liked it so much I decided to make it the next year and I've made this recipe every year since. 

Through life’s changes – including different homes in different states and watching my children grow from tiny youngsters into young adults – every year on the fourth Thursday of November, I enjoy this ambrosia salad.

No one in my family really likes this salad. One person hates pineapple. Another hates coconut, but I don’t let their picky tendencies rain on my Thanksgiving. I make the recipe and enjoy it all to myself, although I may share if anyone is interested.

On the day before Thanksgiving I make the salad and enjoy the crunchy coconut, cherry and pineapple mixture and normally eat it for a few days with leftovers.

I’ll enjoy the turkey and fixings, but for some reason, this salad makes it feels like Thanksgiving to me.

Here is the recipe:

Ambrosia Salad

One bag of miniature marshmallows

One jar of maraschino cherries

One bag of coconut

One can of crushed Pineapple

One small tub of whipped topping

Drain maraschino cherries and pineapple. Combine about 4 cups of marshmallows, the jar of cherries, about half the can of crushed pineapple and about half the bag of coconut (to your preference) in bowl. Add whipped topping to make it a creamy texture.