If you’re like most adults who currently reside in my apartment, you are eagerly anticipating the season 4 finale of Mad Men Sunday night. If you happen to be attending a season 4 finale party, or just to make the event a little more special, unleash your inner Betty Draper–not by being horrible to your children–but by making this excellent retro-dish, ambrosia salad.
Our take on ambrosia salad has a contemporary approach with sophisticated flavor. Instead of marshmallows we use perfectly ripe avocados. Tangy buttermilk, and citrus compliment the creamy avocados, cucumber and tarragon. An updated salad that doesn’t compromise on kitschy 1960’s party food cred. Serve with three martinis and an Alka-seltzer.
Contemporary Ambrosia Salad (adapted from The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook)
for the salad
1 grapefruit, supremed
1 orange, supremed
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 avocados, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, washed and diced
1/4 cup basil, diced
for the dressing
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 clove garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened, but sweetened is fine)
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
pinch of cayenne pepper
Supreming citrus doesn’t have to be too difficult. Just do your best to remove most of the skin and pith from each segment. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Whisk the lime juice into the olive oil, and then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the zest, salt, pepper, and garlic. Toss the salad with the coconut, tarragon, and dressing and finish with the pinch of cayenne. Check the salt and acid levels.
I like this salad best 20 minutes after the dressing and salad have been combined. You can make both ahead and toss just before serving, though you may want to slice the avocados just before serving.