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Congealed salads make a comback


By Lee Ann Fleming



Food is very trendy. One trend I have recently observed is that congealed salads are coming back. I love any kind of congealed salad. My mama always had one in the refrigerator when I was growing up. Her mama, my Mamaw, always had one as well. I prepare them occasionally, but my boys never really cared for them. Steve always said they were dessert. 


I lost count of how many I made for the movie "The Help." I purchased six bundt-shaped Jell-O molds from Tupperware. I had one, but the size and shape had to be identical. When they arrived, I found that the one I had was a little bit larger than the newer ones. One neat feature is a removable center that, when removed, allows the mold to easily come out without having to bother with dipping the mold in warm water to release the prepared salad. 


Every time there was a congealed salad for the movie, I had to have six prepared in case they needed a back-up. I also added some extra plain Knox gelatin to help in keeping the molds firm. Nobody was going to eat them anyway, so all I had to worry about was how they looked. 


The first congealed salad I made was orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges, cherries and crushed pineapple. I made the mixture for all six at one time. The molds were placed on the counter ready for preparation and heading for the fridge. I poured the first mold and continued with the second when I realized there was some gelatin mixture on the counter. 


Remember the neat, new addition of the removable center that I told you about? Well, I forgot to check to make sure that it was popped in securely -- it wasn't. When I picked up the first mold, it fell out, and the entire mold ran out on my counter, down my kitchen cabinets, into my silverware drawer and finally on my floor. Jell-O is not easy to clean up, particularly when you have added extra gelatin for firmness. By this time, the second one was beginning to ooze out of its mold, too. 


What a catastrophe! I had a good cry while cleaning up what ended in possibly having to paint the kitchen. I didn't prepare a congealed salad for my family for a very long time. When they needed one for a food scene in the movie, I shuddered, checked to make sure the mold center was secure and prayed for no more malfunctions. 


When I tell that story now, it is funny. But let me assure you, it was not funny then. 


Today, I have some of my favorite congealed salad recipes. Hope you will give them a try.  








2 (3-ounce) packages mixed fruit Jell-O 


2 cups boiling water 


1 (15-ounce) can blueberries 


1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple 


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 


1/2 cup sugar 


1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream 


1 teaspoon vanilla 


1/2 cup chopped pecans 




  • Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Drain blueberries and pineapple. Measure liquid and add enough to make 1 cup liquid to add to the gelatin mixture. Stir in drained blueberries and pineapple. Pour into an oblong dish, cover and refrigerate until firm. Combine cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Spread over congealed salad, and top with chopped pecans. 








    3/4 cup butter, softened 


    3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar, divided 


    1 2/3 cups finely broken stick pretzels 


    1 (8 ounce) carton Cool Whip 


    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 


    1 (6 ounce) package strawberry Jell-O 


    2 cups boiling water 


    1 pint frozen strawberries, thawed 




  • Cream butter and 3 tablespoons sugar, and add pretzels. Press dough into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely. 


  • Mix together Cool Whip, cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar. Spread on top of cooled pretzel mixture. 


  • Dissolve Jell-O in water. Mix with strawberries. When partially set, spread on top of cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until firm. 








    1 (3 ounce) package lime Jell-O 


    1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 


    1 flat can crushed pineapple, don't drain 


    1/2 cup chopped pecans 


    1 cup boiling water 




  • Dissolve Jell-O in 1 cup boiling water. Mix cream cheese in with Jell-O mixture until smooth. Add pineapple and pecans. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch square dish, and chill until firm. Cut into squares, and serve on top of a lettuce leaf with a dollop of mayonnaise and a red cherry on top, preferably with a stem. 








    1 tall can crushed pineapple 


    3 small boxes apricot Jell-O 


    3 (4 ounce) jars apricot baby food 


    1 (12 ounce) tub Cool Whip 


    2 cups buttermilk 




  • Heat pineapple in a saucepan and add Jell-O. Stir until dissolved. Add baby food, mix well and let cool. Combine buttermilk and Cool Whip, and mix well. Add to Jell-O mixture. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch dish and congeal. 






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