Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buttermilk Congealed Salad - Pink Jello Salad

A tangy form of congealed fruit salad, made with crushed pineapple, flavored gelatin, and your choice of either cottage cheese, buttermilk, cream cheese, salad dressing mayonnaise, sour cream, or any combination of them, with whipped topping folded in.

Pink Jello Salad

This is yet another recipe that is a throwback to my worn out, old Bell's Best cookbook of the 70s. I seem to be stuck in that era here lately don't I? Truth is, have you noticed that retro is quite in these days. Suddenly I'm feeling rather hip y'all!

I had to hire a plumber recently and as I was handing over my life savings, he noticed my torn, tattered and yellowed Bell's Best cookbook laying on the table. His eyes lit up as he proclaimed, "my mama was a pioneer - she used to work for BellSouth!" Funny that he immediately recognized that old cookbook. Somehow we got to talking about schools and apparently he and I both graduated from Biloxi High, but turns out he was born the year before I graduated. He looked at me and said, "I really thought you were my age." I just wanted to hug his neck, bless his sweet little heart, but considering he'd been digging around in the plumbers regions of my house that I'd rather not think about, I just smiled real big and said "thank you."

Anyway, back in the 70s, congealed salads were a given on just about any southern holiday table and a gladly welcomed addition. Most often found in the form of flavored jello containing mostly fruit, but sometimes vegetables, and usually set in a ring mold, many of us have fond memories of them from our grandmother’s tables, especially on those sacred holiday gatherings. It is unfortunate that they don't get much respect these days for their past. I'm afraid that most younger folks can’t get past the name congealed, and others seem a bit freaked out just by the jiggle factor alone, much less to be interested in helping to keep them alive. I don’t exactly get it.

You can find out a whole lot more than you probably ever really wanted to know about congealed salads right here, but basically congealed just means Jello with stuff in it, so I say let's just go ahead and call it jello salad, if it will encourage folks to give them a try. My old cookbook has several so named "jello salads" in it, I suspect for that very reason - the rest of us older folks will always know that it's really just congealed salad.

To be honest, while it's often called Buttermilk Congealed Salad, I'm not sure that this particular type of jello salad actually really qualifies as an authentic congealed salad, since technically it's more of a stir-in and mix-up dish, closely related to the category of say, Watergate Salad, another dish we can't quite place. As always, it comes with many names - buttermilk congealed, green, orange or pink fluff, pink party salad, pineapple salad, cottage cheese salad, and a wide variety of other names when made with different flavors of gelatin, typically lemon, lime, or both, apricot or orange jello.

To make it, you'll need a large can of pineapple, a tablespoon or so of sugar (intended to counter the tartness of the salad a bit), a large box of red gelatin for the pink salad version (strawberry, cherry, raspberry are all good), 2 cups of cottage cheese that has been creamed, or you can exchange that for buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing type of mayonnaise like Miracle Whip, or any combination of them. You can also substitute a block of cream cheese along with 1 cup of another one of those ingredients. I also like this salad with marshmallows and pecans, but both are completely optional if you prefer yours without.

Here's how to make Pink Jello Salad.

Add the pineapple with it's juices and the sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add the gelatin.

Stir it in until well dissolved, stir in the cream cheese here if you're using that as a substitute for the cottage cheese, and you can also melt the marshmallows here too if you prefer. I like the texture of them in the salad myself, so I put them in later, when the mixture is cold. Many people do melt them in though. Once well blended, remove from heat and let mixture cool completely. Transfer to a covered bowl because you'll be refrigerating this in a bit.

When I use cottage cheese, I typically use a regular curd type, but I like to cream it in a blender, though it's not necessary at all. Just add a spoon or two of the pineapple/gelatin mixture to help it cream.

Combine the cooled pineapple mixture with the buttermilk or cottage cheese, sour cream, or salad dressing mayonnaise like Miracle Whip and mix in the whipped topping; stir until well blended. Sorry for the shading - sometimes my camera and my kitchen lighting just don't get along and well, this ain't no high-falutin' photography site anyways.

Stir in marshmallows and pecans if using. You may leave them completely out if you prefer

Mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or overnight is even better.

Spoon into dessert bowls to serve.

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Recipe: Pink Jello Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 2 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 (20 ounce) crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 large (0.6 ounce) box of strawberry, raspberry or cherry flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups of buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing mayonnaise or creamed cottage cheese
  • 2 cups of whipped cream or non-dairy topping (like Cool Whip)
  • 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, optional
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans, optional

Add pineapple, with it's juices, and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil; stir in the gelatin until blended, remove from heat and let mixture cool completely. If using cottage cheese, cream in a food processor or blender along with a spoon or two of the cooled pineapple mixture. Combine the pineapple mixture, cottage cheese and whipped topping; stir until well blended. Add marshmallows and pecans if using, stir well, cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or longer. To serve, spoon into dessert bowls.

Creamsicle Salad: Omit the pineapple and substitute one 15 ounce can of mandarin oranges. Exchange the red jello for orange. Boil the oranges with their juices and jello as above; let cool slightly and continue preparation as above.

Variations: Cottage cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, a salad dressing mayonnaise like Miracle Whip - or any combination of these may be used for a total of 2 cups. You can also substitute one (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, softened at room temperature and stirred into the hot pineapple, and add in 1 cup of another one of the ingredients. May also vary the color and flavor using different gelatin flavors. Lemon, lime, or a combination of the two, apricot and orange are the most common gelatin flavors you'll see for this salad.


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Posted by on April 5, 2012
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