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Frog Eye Salad

Think ambrosia… but with a little twist.

When it comes to retro recipes, it’s not uncommon to come across one that seems a little, well… odd. And this one might strike you that way as soon as you read the name. Frog Eye Salad?! Luckily, there are no actual frog eyes involved, just a handful of ingredients that make for a sweet and creamy dessert salad that’s plenty nostalgic but still has its place in the present day.

So what’s this business about frog eyes? Well, it gets that name because the little spheres of round pasta (more on that in a minute) look like tiny frog eyes in the bowl. Cute, right? And a little weird too.

Are you now thinking, there’s pasta in a dessert salad? Because I know I was. It’s true. This salad incorporates acini de pepe pasta and a handful of other ingredients that you might recognize from ambrosia. So you get little balls of chewy pasta, mandarin oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, and coconut, all folded into a sweet pineapple custard. (And of course there’s Cool Whip. Would this even be a retro salad without Cool Whip?)

This tastes almost exactly like the ambrosia salad my mom has always made (which my sister and I always affectionately called marshmallow salad) but has the little added bonus of a bit of pasta chew. It doesn’t overtake the dish, it barely even registers as pasta… so while those “frog eyes” might seem odd at first, they totally work.

Oh, and if you can’t find acini de pepe, pearl couscous works fine too!

Serves 9

10m prep time

20m cook time

6h inactive

Rated 4.2 out of 5
Rated by 252 reviewers
  • 12 oz acini de pepe pasta
  • 2 (20 oz each) cans pineapple tidbits, drained and juice reserved
  • 1 (20 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 8 oz cool whip, thawed
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. To a large mixing bowl, add the drained mandarin oranges and pineapple tidbits. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice and the granulated sugar. Whisk over medium heat until dissolved.
  4. Add beaten eggs and flour. Heat mixture to 170°F, whisking constantly. Mixture will thicken to a custard consistency after 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  5. Once cool, add to bowl with fruit. Add marshmallows and coconut and stir to combine. Cover and chill at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.
  6. When ready to serve, stir in the cool whip. Top with additional coconut and marshmallows if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Homemade Hooplah.

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