The holiday season is all about family and traditions, and the dish I’m about to share with you is the epitome of both for me. This Cranberry Salad is nothing short of famous in our extended family. The recipe was lovingly passed down to me from my mom, and it just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving or Christmas without it. It’s truly one of the things I look forward to all year… I have fond memories of eating this as a child and it’s so heartwarming to see the same delight in my kids’ faces now that I’m a mom.
The ingredients in this salad may seem a little whacky, but fruit salads such as these (you may also have heard of them referred to as ambrosia salad) were a huge food trend back in the day. I think of it as one of those “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” foods! It’s an easy dish to throw together for a Friendsgiving potluck, and not only will it be a good conversation starter but I guarantee even the skeptics will end up loving it. I adore the way the naturally vibrant colors of cranberry and pomegranate* red brighten up the table. The color palette actually reminds me of peppermint, which of course is another holiday staple.
*pro-tip: if you haven’t quite mastered a quick pomegranate de-seeding technique, you can always take a shortcut and buy the arils (the seeds — that’s their technical term!) from Costco.
LIGHT AS AIR
The hallmark of this dish is its soft and creamy texture. When combining the ingredients, make sure to fold gently instead of thoroughly mixing because we want to keep it light and airy. This salad is best when it’s given at least a couple hours to chill in the refrigerator to set and make sure it is airtight. This may seem like more of a dessert than a side dish, but I like to serve it alongside my turkey to counterbalance all of our other Thanksgiving staples which tend to be on the heavier side. If not eaten or frozen within a day or so, the sugar and fruit will start to weigh down the other ingredients, rendering it more of a fruit soup than salad. But there’s rarely any leftovers of this dish in our house, so you shouldn’t have to worry about soup.
Yield 8 servings
- 3 cups whole cranberries, fresh
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 (20 oz. can) crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
Chop cranberries in food processor or blender until fine and no large pieces remain. Transfer to mixing bowl and stir sugar into cranberries. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Drain any accumulated juices from cranberries and reserve. Stir in drained pineapple and marshmallows. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream adding powdered sugar and vanilla to sweeten until soft peaks form. Fold into cranberry mixture until fully incorporated.
Refrigerate or freeze. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.