I call this "Holiday Fruit Salad" because it's the fruit salad my mother has made for years for most holiday meals or one of the various salads we will have at a holiday meal. This recipe probably originated back in the 1970's or maybe even the sixties. I know that I grew up with it, but I am not sure when it actually got started. I remember my late mother-in-law making it also back in the day. It's really such a simple little fruit salad to prepare, but I think it's one of the favorites to this day.
My husband loves it. Sometimes, I think he just mindlessly eats what I put in front of him, but since I have been writing for this site, he is thinking a bit more about food and what's good and what people might like more than others. After I made this particular fruit salad for this post, he said he thinks it's still his favorite fruit salad after all of the varieties we make in our family.
When you look at the list of ingredients, it might seem too simple and uncomplicated, but I think that might be what makes it so popular. The instant pudding is the key. The original version called for vanilla pudding. You also sprinkled the bananas with about a 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to keep them fresh looking longer if you used the vanilla pudding. I just use instant lemon pudding and I think it gives it a little more zip and flavor. Feel free to use either one. They both work!
Here is what you will need:
1 (20 oz.) can of pineapple tidbits or chunks in juice (do not drain)
1 (3.4 oz.) instant lemon pudding mix (can use vanilla)
2 (15 oz.) cans of good fruit cocktail, drained
3-4 bananas, sliced
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and sliced in half
Combine the pineapple tidbits and the pudding mix until the pudding has dissolved. Add in the fruit cocktail and the sliced bananas. Some of you will ask, what I mean by 'good fruit cocktail'. Not all fruit cocktail is created equally. The slightly better brands have better stuff in them. I like Del Monte. Some canned goods you can scrimp on, some it's best not to.
Place in a pretty salad bowl. Sprinkle the cherry halves over the top. Chill for about an hour before serving!
This is also good served for a holiday brunch or luncheon!