Desserts are a funny thing in our house. Though I grew up without desserts in my life thanks to a mom who didn’t really believe in snack foods, it’s odd that I’m the sort of mom who likes to let the kids partake in the occasional baked good or pudding. Or maybe it’s just my way of rebelling. Who knows!? But with this Orzo Pasta Fruit Salad, I can kind of delude myself that it’s somewhat healthy. I mean… it’s full of fruit! That means it’s good for you, right? Oh, maybe not.
That said, it does contain at least four food groups. It’s got carbohydrates in the form of pasta, fruit from three different sources, protein in the form of eggs and even dairy in the whipped topping….. okay, perhaps whipped topping doesn’t actually contain dairy. But it’s dairy-like. Let’s call it “Dairy Adjacent.”
So there you have it! A “healthy” dessert that kids and grownups can all enjoy!
The dish starts with a full 16 oz of orzo pasta, also called Rosa Marina pasta. In fact, this recipe was sent to me by my friend Melissa when my 7-Up Salad recipe went viral. She thought I might enjoy this one, and she called it Rosa Marina Fruit Salad. But I like to be more descriptive, so I just called it Orzo Pasta Fruit Salad because that’s what it is. Anyway, the orzo is what gives the salad its bulk, much in the same way as rice in a rice pudding. It sounds a bit odd to add pasta to a dessert, but trust me – it works!
To the Orzo, you add the fruit from cans of pineapple (both chunks and crushed), mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries. The juice is reserved for later. Simply stir the fruit into the pasta and set to the side.
By itself, this might even suffice as a decent side dish. But the next bit turns it into a definite dessert by combining the fruit juices, sugar, eggs and flour in a saucepan and cooking it long enough to create a sort of thin custard. The cooled sauce is then poured over the pasta and fruit and stirred to combine. I noticed that the liquid did sort of cover the main dish, so at this point it’s best to set it in the fridge to let the sauce absorb a bit. Then it’s a case of adding in your whipped topping and stirring it into the dish just before ready to serve! I love to leave it in the fridge overnight to really let it set up. In fact, I feel like it gets better the longer you leave it!
At the end of the day, it’s a great little dessert that my kids went nuts over. And it has a ton of flavor. My mother always made a similar fruit salad, but hers has no pasta and uses vanilla pudding instead of a sauce and fruit cocktail instead of the various fruits. Oh, and marshmallows. So… possibly it’s a lot different.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a delicious dish to pass at your next potluck dinner, you can’t go wrong with this one. Fair warning – it makes A LOT of salad. A lot. Like… a lot, a lot. If you’re making it for a family meal, I’d cut it in half.
Orzo Pasta Fruit Salad
This is an absolutely delicious side dish or dessert, perfect for your next pot luck!
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 12 hours
- Yield: 20 - 30 servings
- 16 oz orzo pasta
- 2 (15 oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained with juice reserved
- 1 (16 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
- 1 (16 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
- 1 (4 oz) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 (16 ounce) container whipped topping
- Boil the orzo in salted water until al dente. Drain and add to large bowl.
- Add the mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, crushed pineapple and cherries and mix together with the orzo. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, eggs, flour and reserved fruit juices.
- Cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly for 7 – 10 minutes.
- Allow sauce to cool in the pan for about 30 – 40 minutes.
- Drizzle the cooled sauce over the orzo and fruit and stir to coat it all.
- Place bowl in fridge to allow the flavors to combine for about 8 – 12 hours.
- Mix the whipped topping into the dish just before serving.
This recipe will make a TON of fruit salad. Be sure to use a large enough bowl or even split between two large bowls. You can also halve the recipe and still have enough to feed 8 – 10 people.