Southern tradition: party salads with a dollop

Published 9:25 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon


Growing up, I loved refreshing Southern party salads and still do. As comfort foods, these recipes have a long tradition in the South – and take us back to childhood, evoking memories of days gone by. Whether for Sunday dinner at home, a church picnic, or a backyard barbeque, no buffet table was without one or more of these favorites. And it’s no wonder – the sweet fruit flavor pairs perfectly with any savory side dish.

The party salad is a large part of our delicious culinary heritage that combines homestyle goodness with gracious hospitality. And today, retro or not, a side dish of congealed fruit and cream continues to be well received by all those at your table – and guaranteed to be a favorite. Serve the salad from a decorative mold, in squares on green, leafy lettuce, or spooned out of a bowl and topped with a delightful dollop – an unmeasured blob, the way Southerners do, of course. Congealed salads pull double duty as dessert, too, making them a versatile choice at your next get-together. For a taste of homecoming, go ahead and take the trip down memory lane.


2 cups crushed pretzels

¾ cup melted butter

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup sugar

8 oz. cream cheese

8 oz. Cool Whip

6 oz. pkg. lime gelatin

2 cups boiling water

20 oz. can crushed pineapple

Mix pretzels, butter, and 1 Tbsp. sugar and line bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 8 minutes. Cool. In a mixer, combine 1 cup sugar and cream cheese and beat. Then add Cool Whip. Spread on a cooled pretzel crust. Boil water and dissolve gelatin in water. Then add pineapple. Let gelatin mixture partially congeal. Then spread on top of the cream cheese layer. Chill until firm.Variation: You may substitute a 6 oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin and 20 oz. of strawberries instead of lime gelatin and pineapple.


3 oz. lime gelatin

1 cup hot water

2 cups miniature marshmallows

4 oz. cream cheese

½ pint whipped heavy cream

1 small can crushed pineapple

½ cup chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in hot water. Chill. When it begins to thicken, fold in marshmallows and other ingredients. Whip the cream, and fold it into the mixture. Chill until firm.


3 oz. pkg. lime gelatin

1 cup hot water

¾ cup pineapple juice

½ pint whipped heavy cream

1 medium can crushed pineapple

¾ cup chopped pecans

6 crushed peppermint sticks

Dissolve gelatin in water. Add pineapple juice. Chill until almost firm. Fold in whipped cream. Then add pineapple, nuts, and 3 sticks of candy. Chill until firm. When ready to serve, sprinkle remaining sticks of crushed candy on top.


3 cups water

6 oz. lime gelatin

8 oz. softened cream cheese

8 oz. drained, crushed pineapple

8 oz. drained, sliced pears

½ cup chopped walnuts

Bring water to a boil and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Whisk in the cream cheese until melted and blended. Fold in the pineapple, pears, and nuts, and mix well.  Pour into a glass dish, and refrigerate until firm.


16 oz. cottage cheese

3 oz. lime gelatin

14 oz. drained crushed pineapple

6 oz. Cool Whip

In a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cottage cheese, and mix well. Add pineapple and whipped topping. Mix well. Chill until firm.


6 oz. lime gelatin

2 cups boiling water

1 cup drained crushed pineapple

½ cup chopped pecans

Small container of regular cottage cheese

4 oz. crumbled cream cheese

1 small can evaporated milk

In boiling water, dissolve gelatin. Allow to cool. Fold in other ingredients. Place in a mold and chill until firm.


1 cup boiling water

6 oz. strawberry gelatin

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

20 oz. drained, crushed pineapple

1 cup chopped pecans

20 oz. frozen strawberries in syrup

3 mashed bananas

Sour cream

Fresh strawberries

Thaw strawberries and save syrup. Dissolve gelatins in boiling water. Add remaining ingredients except for sour cream and strawberries. Mix well. Pour into 8 cup mold. Chill until firm. Serve with desired topping.


3 oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin

2/3 cup water

3 oz. cream cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 cup Cool Whip

½ cup chopped pecans

Bring water to a boil and dissolve gelatin. Cool until gelatin begins to thicken. Add cream cheese, mayonnaise, and pineapple and mix well. Fold in Cool Whip and mix. Combine the mixture with the gelatin and add nuts. Pour into a mold, and chill until firm. Garnish with fresh strawberries.


3 oz. strawberry gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1 can strawberry pie filling

3 oz. lemon gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 oz. cream cheese

8 ¾ oz. drained crushed pineapple

½ cup whipped heavy cream

Dissolve strawberry gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water. Fold in pie filling. Pour into 9 x 9 dish and chill until partially set. Dissolve lemon gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. In a mixer, beat mayonnaise and cream cheese. Fold into the lemon gelatin. Then fold in pineapple and whipped cream. Spread on strawberry layer. Chill until firm, and cut in squares.


12 oz. strawberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

1 cup cold water

20 oz. crushed pineapple with juice

1 large carton frozen strawberries, thawed

1-pint sour cream

1 cup chopped pecans.

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add cold water. Add fruits and juices. Pour half of mixture into a mold or a glass dish. Chill until firm. Smooth sour cream over mixture. Sprinkle pecans over sour cream. Cover with remaining gelatin mixture, and chill until firm.


6 oz. orange gelatin

2 cups boiling water

1-pint orange sherbert

11 oz. mandarin oranges

2 sliced bananas

1 small can crushed pineapple

Dissolve gelatin in water. Add sherbert until melted. Add remaining ingredients. Chill until firm.


6 oz. orange gelatin

8 oz. sour cream

12 oz. Cool Whip

1 can drained mandarin oranges

1 cup miniature marshmallows

Combine orange gelatin and sour cream, and mix until dissolved. Fold in Cool Whip. Fold in oranges and marshmallows. Chill until firm.


6 gelatin

2 cups hot water

1 small can frozen orange juice

2 cans drained mandarin oranges

1 large undrained can crushed pineapple

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Stir in undiluted orange juice until melted. Cool. Add oranges and pineapple to gelatin mixture. Pour into an 11 x 13 dish. Chill until firm.


½ pint whipped cream

1 pkg. instant lemon pudding

1 cup milk

Beat cream until it peaks. In a bowl, add milk to pudding mixture. Fold into whipped cream. Spread on gelatin.


3 oz. orange gelatin

½ cup sugar

1 cup pineapple juice from can

1 cup drained, crushed pineapple

1 cup sour cream

2 cans drained mandarin oranges

½ cup coconut

1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Bring one cup of fruit juice to a boil and dissolve gelatin and sugar.  Use the juice from the canned fruits to make the full cup. Fold in all ingredients one at a time. Chill. When partially set, mix again and chill until firm.


1 large bowl of Cool Whip

1 medium carton cottage cheese

1 large can drained, crushed pineapple

1 3 oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin, undissolved

Mix all ingredients together and chill until firm.


8 ¼ oz. drained, crushed pineapple

16 oz. drained, pitted cherries

6 oz. cherry gelatin

2 cups fruit juices

8 oz. Coca Cola

½ cup chopped pecans

Reserve 2 cups of drained juice from cherries and pineapple. In a pot, bring 2 cups of fruit juice to a boil and dissolve gelatin. Use water if necessary to make a full 2 cups of liquid. Add drained pineapple, drained cherries, Coca Cola, and pecans. Pour into a 9 x 9 square pan. Chill until firm.


6 oz.cherry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

20 oz. undrained, crushed pineapple

1 can cherry pie filling

Bring water to a boil and dissolve gelatin. Add undrained pineapple and pie filling. Chill until firm.


8 oz. cream cheese

1 carton sour cream

½ cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients except nuts, and mix well. Cover with chopped nuts. Chill until firm.


6 oz. orange gelatin

2 cups boiling water

16 oz. drained, apricots, juice reserved

14 oz. crushed pineapple

1 cup miniature marshmallows

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Sir well and 1 cup of mix fruit juices reserved from fruit. Mix well. Refrigerate until partially set. Cup up apricots into pieces and fold into mixture. Add crushed pineapple and marshmallows. Mix well and pour into dish. Chill until firm.


1 beaten egg

1 cup mixed juices

2 Tbsp. butter

½ cup sugar

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. vinegar

8 oz. cool whip

Shredded cheddar cheese

Combine ingredients except for Cool Whip and cheese, and cook on medium heat until thick while stirring constantly. Cool and cover gelatin mixture with topping. Cover topping with Cool Whip and cheese. Chill until firm.


6 oz. black cherry gelatin

3 cups boiling water

Reserved juice from cherries plus water

1 can drain Bing cherries, liquid reserved

1 cup finely chopped celery

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup finely chopped pecans

In boiling water, dissolve gelatin. Add 1 cup of reserved juice plus water. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into dish. Chill until firm.


1 cup graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup melted butter

9 oz. drained, crushed pineapple

3 oz. orange gelatin

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup hot water

1 cup sour cream

¼ tsp. vanilla

1 cup drained, diced mandarin oranges

½ cup coconut

Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Reserve 1/3 cup for topping. Press crumbs into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Drain pineapple and reserve liquid. In hot water, dissolve gelatin and sugar. Stir in reserved fruit syrup. Chill until partially set. Add sour cream and vanilla, and whip until fluffy. Fold in pineapple, oranges, and coconut. Pour into dish. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Chill until firm, and cut into squares.


16 oz. sliced peaches

¼ cup vinegar

½ cup sugar

12 whole cloves

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

3 oz. orange gelatin

¾ cup cold water

Drain peaches and reserve 1 cup syrup. Chop peaches into medium pieces. Bring reserved syrup, vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain syrup and discard cloves. Dissolve gelatin in hot syrup. Add cold water and peaches. Pour into a 9 x 9 and chill until firm.


29 oz. jar picked peaches with syrup

1 cup fresh orange juice

3 oz. orange gelatin

8 oz. cream cheese

½ cup chopped pecans

Orange rind

Remove seeds from pickled peaches being careful not to tear peach. Bring peach juice and orange juice to a boil and dissolve gelatin. Soften cream cheese in a little of the hot juice and add pecans. Fill each peach hollow with cream cheese nut mixture. Place each peach in an individual mold and fill with gelatin. Chill until firm.


2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1/3 cup sugar

1 ½ cups water

2 cups Rose wine

2 cups fresh blueberries

12 oz. drained, mandarin oranges

In a bowl, mix gelatin with sugar. Add boiling water and stir until dissolved. Stir in wine. Chill and stir until mixture is slightly thick. Fold in blueberries and oranges. Pour into a mold. Chill until firm.


6 oz. blackberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

15 oz. can blueberries

8 ¼ oz. drained, crushed pineapple

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Drain blueberries and pineapple. Use juices and add enough water to make 1 cup. Add to the gelatin mixture. Cool. Fold in the blueberries and pineapple. Chill until firm.


8 oz. softened cream cheese

½ pint softened sour cream

½ cup sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup chopped pecans

In a mixer, beat softened cream cheese, sour cream, and other ingredients. Fold in pecans. Spread over congealed gelatin.


3 oz. lemon gelatin

1 cup hot water

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup cold water

3 large chopped Red Delicious apples

¾ cup miniature marshmallows

½ cup chopped nuts

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup mayonnaise salad dressing

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Boil water and dissolve gelatin. Blend in cool water. Cool until slightly thickened while stirring occasionally. Mix the apples, marshmallows, nuts, celery, mayonnaise and lime juice into thickened gelatin. Pour into a pan or mold, and chill until firm.


3 oz. orange gelatin

3 oz. raspberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

16 oz. whole berry cranberry sauce

14 oz. undrained crushed pineapple

¾ cup chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Add the cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple with juice. Fold in nuts. Mix well. Put in individual molds or a 9 x 9 dish. Chill until firm.



1 cup whipped heavy cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ tsp. salt

Whip cream. Fold in mayonnaise and salt. Chill. Delicious on plain or molding fruit salads.


1 egg

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1 cup vegetable oil

In a mixer, blend egg, salt, and vinegar at high speed. While blending, add half of the oil slowly. Continue pouring the remainder of oil, very slowly as in drops. Turn blender off as soon as all oil is added. Chill.


¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dry mustard

¼ tsp white pepper

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup milk

2 beaten eggs

1 dozen large marshmallows

1 cup whipped cream

Mix together all ingredients except marshmallows and whipped cream. Stir mixture over medium heat until it boils and becomes thick. Add the marshmallows, and stir until melted. Let stand until cool. Fold in whipped cream. Chill.


1 egg

½ cup sugar

1 tsp orange peel

1 tsp lemon peel

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

½ cup whipped cream


1 egg

½ cup pineapple or orange juice

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 ½ Tbsp. corn starch

8 oz. Cool Whip

Beat egg and add to juice. Add sugar and then corn starch. Mix well until no lumps. Cool until thick while stirring. Cover and cool. Fold in the whipped topping. Chill.


4 ½ oz. Cool Whip

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup orange flavored instant drink mix

Mix all together and serve on top of any salad. Refrigerate.

Hints: Dollops can be garnished with tiny slivers of lemon, lime, or orange rind.