Going Coconuts


My husband spent a lot of time years ago in Africa, where he would eat fresh coconuts all day long.

My husband spent a lot of time years ago in Africa, where he would eat fresh coconuts all day long. Well, we’re not as lucky here in Israel to have such delicacies right at hand. Fresh coconuts usually show up as luxury items just a few times a year, as I suspect they do in Philadelphia.
And flaked, unsweetened coconut tastes so good, it can find its way into recipes other than just sweets.
Coconut Curried Eggplant
1 medium eggplant
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsps. olive oil (divided)
1⁄2 red bell pepper, cubed
1⁄3 cup chopped cilantro and mint leaves
3⁄4 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. curry powder or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375˚.
Slice the eggplant into circles and spread on a lightly greased baking pan.
Sprinkle with minced garlic and brush with 11⁄2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes until tender, but not overdone. Remove from oven and let cool.
Cut the eggplant into cubes. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick or cast­iron frying pan. Add red pepper and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add eggplant cuts and continue to heat. Add in remaining ingredients and cook for just a few minutes while stirring.
Remove from heat and serve either immediately or cold.
Serves 4 to 6.
Tropical Ambrosia Salad
A typical ’60s dessert. To make it even more so, add in marshmallows and Maraschino cherries!
1 can (8 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
3 bananas, sliced (sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning)
1⁄2 cup halved purple or green grapes
1 can (10.5 oz.) crushed or cubed pineapple
1⁄2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.
Serves 6.
Pineapple-Coconut Squares
Pretend you’re in Hawaii.
1 cup unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1 and 3⁄4 cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
1⁄2 tsp. almond extract
11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
11⁄2 tsps. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 and 1⁄2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
1 can (16 oz.) crushed pineapple in light syrup or packed in its own juices, very well drained
Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Cream the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and almond extract.
In another bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt together. Gradually, add to creamed mixture.
Blend thoroughly. Blend in coconut and pineapple.
Spread mixture evenly into pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly brown. Cut into bars.
Makes 4 to 5 dozen bars.
No-Bake Chocolate-Coconut Balls
Too hot to bake? Try these choco­late balls.
1 and 3⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup orange juice
1⁄2 cup unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 and 1⁄2 cups uncooked oatmeal, regular or quick-cooking
1⁄2 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
Mix the sugar, juice, margarine and cocoa together in a medium-sized saucepan, over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Stir in the vanilla, oatmeal and flaked coconut. Mix thoroughly.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into fluted paper cups. Freeze until serving.
Makes about 25 balls.
Coconut-Brown ­Sugar Squares
1⁄2 cup unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 cups and 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 and 1⁄4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Cream together the margar­ine, sugar and 2 cups of flour until mixture resembles small crumbs.
Pat into a slightly-greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Do not turn off oven.
Combine remaining ingredients, except coconut.
Pour evenly over baked base. Sprinkle coconut evenly on top.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cut into squares when cool.
Makes 25 small squares.
Rivka Tal is a former Minne­sotan who has lived in Jeru­salem for the past 46 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: talriv@gmail.com.


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