Food & Drink

Supperland Ambrosia Salad

A new restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, elevates a classic with toasted coconut and brandied cherries

Photo: Kenty Chung


“We’re finding that the easiest way to describe ourselves is ‘Southern steakhouse meets church potluck,’” says Jamie Brown, who with her husband, Jeff Tonidandel, recently opened their Supperland restaurant inside a former church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Guests sit in restored pews and dine beneath vaulted ceilings, and the menu nods to historic Southern fare—mac and cheese, locally sourced steaks, and oyster dishes featuring North Carolina bivalves. 

For a side dish, the couple took inspiration from a classic ambrosia salad Tonidandel found in an old cookbook. “Jeff read that one of the first—if not the first—references to the dish is from an 1867 cookbook called Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years, by Maria Massey Barringer of Concord, North Carolina, which is right up the road from us,” Brown says. 

The couple elevated the flavors of that recipe by perfecting each ingredient—toasted coconut, brandied cherries, and grilled pineapple. “We love just how fun ambrosia salad is,” Brown says. “It’s unexpected, it’s teeming with nostalgia for many, and it’s delicious.” Soak the cherries one day ahead, and then spend time on each ingredient before mixing them all together and serving the comforting fruit salad in your favorite potluck-worthy dishes.

photo: Courtesy of Supperland

Ingredients

  • Supperland Ambrosia Salad (Yield: 8 servings)

    • 16 oz. frozen dark, sweet cherries

    • 1 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

    • 2 cups brown sugar simple syrup (1 part water heated until combined with 1 part brown sugar)

    • 2 oz. brandy

    • 2 oz. coconut flakes

    • 2 tbsp. olive oil

    • 3 tbsp. maple syrup

    • ¼ tsp. flake or kosher salt

    • 2 tbsp. butter

    • 4 oz. pecans, chopped

    • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

    • ¼ tsp. flake or kosher salt

    • 6 oz. chopped pineapple

    • 8 oz. cream cheese

    • 100 grams powdered sugar

    • 2 cups heavy cream

    • 2 oz. mini marshmallows


Preparation

  1. For the brandied cherries, place cherries in a quart container with maraschino liqueur and brandy. Pour brown sugar simple syrup over the top. Seal and let marinate overnight or two days.

  2. For the toasted coconut, lay out coconut flakes on a sheet tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle with olive oil, maple syrup, and salt. Cook in oven at 325°F, flipping after first 4 minutes and flipping every 2 minutes until toasted, up to about 10 mins. Don’t take your eyes off them after 8 minutes—these things can burn fast. The coconut should be slightly toasted and not dark brown. Allow it to cool and it will get a delightful crunchy texture (when you first pull them from the oven, they’ll be slightly chewy, so wait a bit.)

  3. For the brown sugar toasted pecans, place butter and pecan pieces in a pan. Slightly toast them for 8 minutes on medium heat. Add brown sugar. Cook down until all melted together. Add a touch of water (about ½ tbsp.). Cook down for another 2–3 minutes. Move to parchment-covered sheet tray and place in oven at 350°F for 3–5 minutes until toasted. Salt to taste.

  4. For the pineapple, grill over fire or on a high-heat grill pan 5–7 minutes and then dice. Set aside.

  5. For the cream base, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until peaks form, about 1 minute. Remove from mixer bowl and place in large metal bowl.

  6. Add heavy cream to the clean mixer bowl. Mix until stiff peaks form. Add whipped cream cheese and powdered sugar mixture back into the bowl, and whip everything together for a few seconds to get it all incorporated. Move mixture to a large metal bowl.

  7. Stir in toasted coconut, roasted pecans, grilled pineapple, and marshmallows. Serve in bowls, and top each serving with brandied cherries.