#FRIDAYFOOD – Congealed salads

strawberry-pretzel-saladSomewhere between dessert and side dish is everyone’s favorite congealed salad. While I do not always put them in the salad category, “it is what it is” – as they say.

I recently asked Facebook and Twitter friends about their favorite holiday foods. Of course, everyone loves their turkey, ham and cornbread dressing, but it was interesting to see how many people love all of the special side items and desserts made by special friends and family.

When my brother, Jeremy, and I were little, Gussie Bridges of Stewart babysat us for a time. There were so many fun memories from staying at “Aunt Gussie’s” house because there were always tons of kids there to play with. I remember being tall enough to touch the freezer handle on her refrigerator and thinking I was “so big.” I know I was there when I was 4 or 5, because I remember my friend, Rhonda Berryhill, starting first grade and there was no one there but Jeremy to play with. Everyone else was “real little.”

I remember “Aunt Gussie” (she was not our aunt, but everyone else called her that) making a “kid-friendly” congealed salad of sorts in individual pudding glasses. They were WONDERFUL!

Aunt Gussie’s Special Jell-o Salad

1 large box of strawberry Jell-o

1 cup of small marshmallows

1 or 2 sliced bananas

Prepare the Jell-o according to the directions and add marshmallows and bananas.

I thought that simple dessert was the best. But I will say, every time my mom tried to make it, she would add chopped apples. I did NOT like the apples in it. It was a weird texture to me and not “the way Aunt Gussie makes it!”

Reba Thompson has a more “grown up” Strawberry Congealed Salad with pretzels that she loves to serve at family gatherings.

Strawberry Congealed Salad


10-12 oz. Pretzels, crushed to make 2 cups

¾ cup melted butter

3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar

Mix sugar with butter, then add pretzels. Press mixture into a 9” x 13” dish. Bake at 400 degrees for eight minutes. Cool and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


8 ounces of Cream Cheese

1 cup of sugar

8 oz. or 9 oz of Cool Whip

Smooth the filling over the cooled crust.

Top Layer:

1 6 oz. pkg. of strawberry Jell-o

2 cups boiling water

2 10 oz. pkgs. of frozen strawberries (or 1 pint)

Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water. Add strawberries and stir until thawed. Pour over the cream cheese layer and refrigerate until set. It serves 4-6 large servings.

Tracy Palmer said her mom’s Blueberry Salad is a favorite at their family gatherings.

Johnnie Hood’s Blueberry Salad

2 small boxes of Grape Jell-o

1 Large can of Blueberry Pie filling

8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese

½ pint of sour cream

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chopped pecans

Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water. Stir in pineapple and Blueberry pie filling. Pour into 13”x 9”x 2” pan. Chill until firm. For the topping, beat cream cheese, vanilla, sour cream and sugar until smooth. Spread on Jell-o mixture. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Holiday and family gatherings were not complete at the Roberts household without a big helping of “Dump Salad.”

“It’s super easy to make and you pretty much just dump everything into a bowl and mix it up,” said Victoria Roberts. “My brother and I agree that this one particular bowl of my grandmother’s is THE dump salad bowl.”

While she doesn’t have her grandmother’s exact recipe, Roberts said “dump salad” consists of a large box of unmade orange Jell-o, cottage cheese, Cool Whip, sliced peaches and crushed pineapple.


Do you have a congealed salad recipe you would like to share? Send it to gwenwoodssisson@yahoo.com.


This column was published in the January 6, 2017 edition of The Winona Times.

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