I don't know exactly how cranberry sauce came to be such an integral part of the Thanksgiving meal. What I do know is that it acts as a prefect sweet-tart palate cleanser to break up the otherwise savory components of the meal.
Sweet and sour flavors are a great counterpoint to rich and fatty meat—just think about how great duck with sour cherries or pork with tart apples are.
Abiding by this principle, I have decided to include not one but two fruit dishes on my Thanksgiving menu this year. The first is obviously going to be cranberry sauce, and the second is this Easy Ambrosia from Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee.
For those familiar with the cream-pineapple-maraschino-cherry-laden versions of this salad, rest assured that this one contains none of those cloyingly sweet ingredients. This iteration of ambrosia is much more refined.
It's basically a winter citrus salad with bitter endive and fresh parsley dressed simply with olive oil and salt. Since this salad forgoes the whipped cream and marshmallows, both fundamental parts of the traditional ambrosia, the salad is finished with a sprinkle of toasted coconut for sweetness.
I'm looking forward to adding this salad to my Thanksgiving menu, I think that it will add light notes of sweet, bitter, and tart to a meal that usually hovers in the realm of heavy, savory, and meaty.
Win Simple Fresh Southern
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Simple Fresh Southern to give away this week.
- 1 tablespoon coconut flakes, preferably unsweetened
- 2 navel oranges or tangelos, segmented
- 1 ruby grapefruit, segmented
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium Belgian endive, root ends trimmed, cut lengthwise into thin strips
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley (from about one 3-ounce bunch), stems trimmed
Spread the coconut flakes in the broiler pan of a toaster oven and toast on a medium setting until they have become ever so gently browned, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, you could toast the coconut by stirring it in a dry skillet until it toasts and becomes fragrant.) Reserve.
Segment the oranges and grapefruit over a large salad bowl to catch all the juice and segments. Drain the juice in a small bowl and add the salt and olive oil. Add the endive and parsley to the salad bowl with the citrus segments.
Whisk the citrus juice with the olive oil and salt until the dressing is emulsified. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss until the salad is evenly coated. (Covered, the ambrosia will keep in the refrigerator for 1 day.) Before serving, sprinkle the reserved toasted coconut over it.