I fully realize that I am bucking the trend here by posting a fruit salad recipe right before Thanksgiving. Savory food is on everyone’s mind and everywhere you look right now, there are incredible recipes for stuffing, potatoes, gravy, root vegetables, and every possible variation on pumpkin pie ever conceivable. But, please indulge me for a minute and let me explain….It is my firm belief that fruit salad belongs in a well-rounded Thanksgiving spread. It provides a lovely bright, crisp taste of sunshine to offset the often heavy, rich flavors of a Thanksgiving meal. The contrast of flavors is delightful, and fruit offers a refreshing break for your palate. Perhaps cranberry sauce is the source of fruit for many people, but to me it’s more of a condiment and I can only handle small portions. It’s never anything I want to eat by the spoonful, just because it tastes good. Nope. Thus, the need for fruit salad!
Now bear with me… I fully realize that most fruit salads belong fully in the realm of summer; bowls laden with a medley of colorful summer fruits such as berries, cantaloupe, and watermelon. And, the reality of making such a fruit salad in November is likely to empty your wallet, while producing decidedly unsatisfactory results. This fruit salad, however, was pretty much made for Thanksgiving. It is a truly fall fruit salad, with the primary flavors stemming from seasonally appropriate apples, pears, and pecans. I generally like my fruit salad to be a simple, healthy, unadorned medley of fruits, allowing the natural flavors to shine through. But, let’s face it, for Thanksgiving everything gets dressed up into something indulgent and fantastic. And so it goes with Festive Fruit Salad. The pineapple juice is thickened and sweetened to create a delicious glaze for the fruit. An egg is added to the glaze that, while it might seem a bit odd, creates a rich taste and adds a lot of depth to the flavor of this fruit salad. And, finally, the salad is topped off with rich, sweet pecan halves which is to me the single ingredient that really transforms this salad into something special and perfect for a holiday meal.
While this salad is ideal for fall, I have actually made this salad throughout the year, and altered the fruits based on seasonal availability (i.e. adding strawberries in the summer) and it is always delicious. You can make it a day ahead of time, which actually gives the flavors a little time to blend, but it is generally the best within the first 2 days. So, if you are looking for a dressed up, slightly rich and indulgent fruit salad for your holiday table, give Festive Fruit Salad a try. (P.S. – One of my fav things ever – a warmed-up Make Ahead Butterhorn and a small bowl of Festive Fruit Salad for a Thanksgiving leftover lunch combo!)
- 1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cans (11 oz each) mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 can (20 oz) pears, drained and chopped
- 3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
- 2 large unpeeled apples, chopped
- 1 cup pecan halves
- Drain pineapple, reserving the juice. Set pineapple aside.
- Pour juice into a small saucepan; add sugar and flour, stirring until incorporated. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Temper the egg by adding 1-2 tbsp of the hot pineapple mixture to the egg, while briskly whisking the egg in a small dish. Add the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan, stirring briskly until fully incorporated; cook until thickened. Remove from the heat; cool. Refrigerate.
- In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, oranges, pears, kiwi, apples, and pecans. Pour dressing over the fruit and stir gently until well blended.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home.