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Herbaceous salt gives this pineapple ambrosia unexpected umami

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Pineapple Ambrosia
Total time:30 mins
Servings:2 to 4
Total time:30 mins
Servings:2 to 4

Ripe, fresh fruit is essential for this colorful salad that is “sweet and bitter, with just a hint of funk,” according to the Lil’ Deb’s Oasis authors of “Please Wait to Be Tasted” cookbook.

Serve it at breakfast or brunch, as a snack or a side salad. The dish calls for a versatile lemon verbena salt, which can be used to season fish, lamb, chicken or fresh fruit or any dish that calls for a salty, herbaceous kick.

The salad is best eaten right away. If you cannot find ripe pineapple, consider mango, papaya or even citrus.

Storage Notes: Store the lemon verbena salt at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Where to Buy: Dried lemon verbena leaves can be found at tea shops and online.

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For the lemon verbena salt

  • 1/2 ounce dried lemon verbena leaves
  • 4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) kosher salt

For the salad

  • 1/2 ripe pineapple, cored, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half moons and chilled
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and sliced into half moons
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon verbena salt
  • Cotija cheese, for serving

Step 1

Make the lemon verbena salt: In a blender or food processor, process the lemon verbena into a powder. Transfer to an airtight container, picking out and discarding any stems. Add the salt and mix to combine; you should have 3/4 to 1 cup lemon verbena salt.

Step 2

Make the salad: On a serving platter, arrange the pineapple, radish and avocado slices in a single layer any way you like. For example, consider placing them in rows, overlapping each slice slightly, as you would scalloped potatoes. Drizzle with the lime juice and olive oil, and sprinkle with the zest and lemon verbena salt. Using a fine grater, grate the cotija cheese over the platter.

Serve chilled.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 cup), based on 4

Calories: 163; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 456 mg; Carbohydrates: 22 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugar: 14 g; Protein: 3g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Please Wait to Be Tasted: The Lil’ Deb’s Oasis Cookbook” by Carla Kaya Perez-Gallardo, Hannah Black and Wheeler (Princeton Architecture Press, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to

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