Congealed salad. Jello salad? What do you call it? In the southern states, we mostly go with congealed, but you may know it by other names. Gelatin salad. Jelly salad. Whatever you call it, here’s a fabulous recipe for it.
No Sunday dinner, family reunion, or gathering of friends in the South would be complete without at least one congealed salad on the table. Indeed, it is not unusual to find three or four. And although you might confuse a congealed salad with dessert, they are always, always, served as a side dish with the main meal. It has to do with that sweet-salt combination that Southerners love.
Now before you go turning your nose up at congealed salad, look at its origins. Congealed salad, I believe, descended from the very Victorian jellies produced by famed chefs during that time period. Some of those creations were very complex and were both savory and sweet. Dessert jellies were highly prized and available mostly to the more well-to-do of the time. And they remain nearly as popular today.
Then along came Jell-o and made flavored gelatin widely available at an affordable price to masses. Suddenly everyone could afford a wiggly, jiggly dessert or jelled salad. Thank you, Jell-o.
I have probably two or three dozen different congealed salad recipes, and today I’m sharing one of my favorites with you. Its base is lime jello which is combined with cream cheese, crushed pineapple, pecans, celery, and marshmallows. Yum and double yum. I made it this time with sugar-free gelatin and low-fat cream cheese and it was just as delicious as the more indulgent version. I just know you’re gonna like this one!
Start by creaming the cream cheese together with the jello using either a stand or hand-held mixer.
Reduce the mixer speed to the lowest possible and add the water a small amount at a time to begin with. After the mixture has loosened up and the water begins to incorporate, add the rest all at once. Continue beating until the cream cheese, jello and water are thoroughly and smoothly combined.
Pour into a mold or dish. Refrigerate until the mixture is partially set (about two hours, but check periodically).
Remove from refrigerator and stir in the remaining ingredients – pineapple, nuts, celery, and marshmallows. Return to refrigerator until completely set. Check after an hour to make sure the marshmallows are submerged. If not, stir them into the mixture again. The salad will need about 4 hours to completely set.
Cut into squares to serve. This salad goes well with most meats and can also serve as dessert with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
Other congealed salad recipes you might enjoy:
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad from My Baking Addiction
- Apricot Delight Jello Salad from Eat at Home
- Mom’s Green Jello Salad from Merry Gourmet
- Bing Cherry Congealed Salad from AllRecipes
- Orange Fluff Jello Salad from Six Sisters’ Stuff
- Pink Jello Salad from Deep South Dish
- Raspberry Vanilla Jello Salad from Butter with a Side of Bread