Fresco de Ensalada (Fruit Salad Drink)

This refreshing punch offers a taste of tropical fruits from across El Salvador, from pineapple and mango to mamey and jocote.

  • Serves


  • Prep

    20 minutes


By Karla Tatiana Vasquez

Published on May 29, 2024

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As Karla Tatiana Vasquez chronicles in The SalviSoul Cookbook, a refresco (or fresco for short) is a refreshing beverage served at celebrations and gatherings across El Salvador. The adapted recipe shared here is in many ways a drinkable fruit salad—a subtly sweet and tangy pineapple-based punch that is as adaptable as it is quaffable. 

Many of the fruits featured in this drink are tropical fruits common throughout Central America, including marañón (cashew fruit), the creamy soft fruit mamey, and small, slightly sour plums known as jocotes. If you can’t find them in the fresh or frozen sections of your local grocery store, they can be swapped out for whatever fruits are in season, such as grapes, apples, and peaches. Vasquez cautions that if using canned fruit, be sure to choose pineapple preserved in its juice rather than in a sugar syrup. If you can find it, the pineapple essence or extract adds a punch of sweetness to this otherwise delicate drink.

Adapted from The SalviSoul Cookbook: Salvadoran Recipes and the Women Who Preserve Them by Karla Tatiana Vasquez. Copyright © 2024. Available from Ten Speed Press.

Featured in “This Salvadoran Cookbook Is Making History” by Jessica Carbone.


  • 4 cups finely chopped pineapple, divided
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh mamey or frozen mamey pulp
  • One 14-oz. bag frozen whole jocotes, pitted and finely chopped
  • 8 oz. marañón, tops removed and finely chopped
  • 1 medium Pink Lady apple, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. pineapple essence or extract (optional)
  • 3 medium romaine lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
  • Watercress sprigs, for garnish


Step 1

To a blender, add 3 cups of the pineapple, the brown sugar, and 2 cups of water. Blend on high speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. 

Step 2

Transfer to a very large jug or beverage dispenser. Stir in the mamey, jocotes, marañón, apple, mango, pineapple essence (if desired), the remaining pineapple, and 14 cups of water. Stir in the lettuce, then set aside (in the refrigerator if possible) for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

Step 3

To serve, fill about a third of each glass with fruit, then top with the liquid. Garnish with watercress and serve with both straws and spoons to scoop out the fruit.

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