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Recipe Tin Project: 24 Hour Salad

A retro side dish from a well-loved recipe card.

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When I saw the title on this old recipe card, I assumed it would be a salad, you know, with lettuce and stuff. I figured it would be a make-ahead salad that you chill overnight and serve, and I was right about that part, just not so much about the ingredients. A closer look showed me that this was much more like my mom’s ambrosia than anything else, filled with marshmallows, orange segments, and pineapple, but instead of her sour cream dressing, this one features a simple egg custard. Maybe it was even creamier? I was intrigued by this retro “salad,” to say the least!

This recipe card came to me through the Recipe Tin Project, a project where I cook my way through an old recipe tin full of vintage recipes. But you might have already guessed that. It’s chock full of old recipe cards, most of which seem to be from the ’60s and ’70s. I love food history, and the idea is to breathe new life into these recipes from the past and maybe learn a technique or two from them along the way. The recipes come from different people with different handwriting; some have sweet illustrations while others are on plain (often smudged and stained) index cards.

This one is definitely of the smudged and stained variety, which just means it was very well-loved. In casual cursive in blue ink, the card lists out the ingredients and directions in an intermingled fashion, which gives you enough info to get by but not a ton of clarity.

First it says to place 2 eggs, some sugar, and some vinegar or lemon juice in a pan. (Go with the lemon juice! That much vinegar turns out to be very vinegary.)

Then it simply says to “beat over heat until thick — cool.” I went with a medium heat and whisked constantly and, sure enough, it thickened up. I transferred mine to a bowl in the fridge to chill.

Then, you’re told to mix “orange sections, pineapple chunks, tiny marshmallows, and light cherries together.” Does it say how much of each? No it does not. I went with two cans of mandarin oranges, one can of pineapple chunks, a couple cups of marshmallows, and about half a jar of maraschino cherries since I have no idea what “light cherries” are.

Then you stir in the chilled custard…

… and a half pint of whipped cream. (I took this to mean a half pint of whipping cream that’s been whipped. Seemed to work.)

Then you chill it for 24 hours!

The marshmallows absorb some of the liquid and get nice and airy and soft and all the fruit mingles together in that tangy custard. It reminds me so much of my mom’s ambrosia, which my sister and I have always fondly called “marshmallow salad.” She uses mandarin oranges, pineapple, coconut, marshmallows, and a little bit of sour cream. It’s more or less the same flavor profile as this 24 hour version, but the custard elevates things a bit. And then there’s cherries! Maybe a salad that’s a little dated, maybe a little retro… but to me it’s timeless. And tasty.

Yield(s): Serves 6

5m prep time

24h inactive

Rated 4.8 out of 5
Rated by 21 reviewers
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  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
  • mandarin orange sections
  • pineapple chunks
  • tiny marshmallows
  • maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
  1. In a pan over medium heat, beat the eggs, sugar, and vinegar or lemon juice until thick. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, and cherries. Add cooled egg mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Gently stir in whipped cream and chill 24 hours. Serve and enjoy!