Disclaimer: no frogs were harmed in the making of this salad.
The name, of course, is part of the fun. When I told someone what I was making, he made me promise that there were no actual eyeballs in the salad.
My sister-in-law makes this salad that she brings out for some family functions. Think ambrosia meets tapioca pudding. When I first tried it, I thought the little orbs were tapioca but, as it turns out, the ‘eyes’ are acini di pepe pasta. I did have a tough time finding the acini de pepe but located some in the international section of one of the bigger grocery stores. Gluten-free pasta in nearly all shape and form was available… but our little guys were more elusive than that. And that, possums, was speedbump #1 where the pastina was concerned. Speedbump #2 happened when I realized that one needs to check the size of the holes in one’s colander when making wee bitty pasta.
I keep thinking that I’d like to try making this with all fresh ingredients but I suspect that it might lose some of its potluck-cold-salad kind of appeal.
Anyhoo, onto the fun stuff:
- 1 pound dried acini di pepe pasta
- 2 15 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
- 2 20 oz cans crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
- 1 20 oz cans pineapple tidbits, drained with juice reserved
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-3/4 cup pineapple juice (should have enough from the pineapple above)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 8 oz container whipped topping, thawed
- ½ bag mini marshmallows
- 1 cup shredded coconut (totally optional)
- In a sauce pan, whisk together the sugar, salt, pineapple juice and eggs. Bring up to medium heat, whisking periodically, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in lemon juice and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Add the dry pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool down. Rinse the pasta with cool water, unless you're of the no-rinse school of pasta thought. I didn't rinse and mine was fine.
- In a large bowl (this recipe makes a LOT so you might need to break out the big salad bowl) combine the pasta, egg & juice mixture, fruit and whipped topping. Mix well and put in the fridge overnight or until chilled.
- Before serving, mix in the marshmallows and coconut.
I got a little paranoid about the pasta slurping up all the sauce, so I made a double batch of the heated egg-juice mixture. It made for a slightly wetter salad but it still was well-received.