Apr 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Salad with Pretzel Crust

This salad has made its way to our Easter dinner table more times than I can count. A few years, it's gone soggy with runny jello, but when it comes together correctly, it is a nice combination of crunchy and creamy, salty and sweet. And it's pretty as all get out when nestled in a holiday food spread (it's pretty at Christmas, too.)  I've seen a lot of versions of this popular dessert/salad, but over the years, I've added my own twists to the original recipe, from varying the filling ingredients to making a little extra crumbles for the top.   I hope you'll fix it and enjoy it however you like it!

Strawberry Salad with Pretzel Crust

Crust and topping ingredients:
1 1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Filling ingredients:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup whipped cream
1 package strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup ice cubes
1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced or quartered

Whipped topping for garnish

In bowl, mix together the crust ingredients. Set aside 1/3 cup for topping. Place remainder in bottom of 9x9 pan and press firmly. Bake at 375 for 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Fold in sour cream and whipped cream. Smooth on top of crust, making sure it covers completely and all the way to the edges of the pan. (If you don't, the jello will seep under this layer and cause a soggy crust.) Place in refrigerator while preparing jello.

In medium-sized glass bowl, sprinkle jello over boiling water. Stir to completely dissolve. Add ice cubes and stir until cool and ice is nearly melted - quickly remove any remaining slivers of ice (you don't want runny or watery jello.)

Place strawberries on whipped topping/cream cheese layer. Carefully pour slightly thickened jello over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. At serving time, spread with another thin layer of whipped topping and sprinkle with remaining pretzel mixture. Cut into squares to serve. Makes 9 squares.

Some recipes call for frozen berries, and in the winter that may be the best option.  But I would recommend eliminating the ice cubes and using the frozen berries instead to chill the jello as they will contain some water.  Either way, promptly refrigerate any leftovers and use up within 24-48 hours.  (The crust will get soggy the longer it stays in the refrigerator.)

Happy holidaying!

P.S. A shout out to my mom, since it's her birthday today. Hope it's great!