By Beverly Hicks Burch
I don’t know what it is about Southerners, but nothing says comfort to us like a covered dish. Give us a sick or injured friend or family member, or heaven forbid a funeral, or “dinner on the ground” and someone goes into gear organizing the “Covered Dish Brigade” making sure there will be a spread “laid out” fit for a King…well, at least maybe Elvis. I’ve often wondered if the habit harkens back to the Scots-Irish ancestry so many Southerners share and the habit those ancestors had for celebrating the dearly departed with wakes.
One of the staples of those covered dish meals is the congealed salad. And, believe me there have been creative and inventive souls over the years who have done things with the imagination and gelatin that well, is kind of like the Star Trek tag line…they have gone where no man (or woman) has gone before (and in some cases probably should have gone)…
Several years ago I was at one such covered dish event…the occasion escapes me now…but, one dish stands out in my mind. Yes, it was a congealed dish. I must confess I have a soft spot for some of these little maligned dishes. Don’t know why other than my folks always said I had a thing for the underdog…
Anyway, it came highly praised, but I was very hesitant to give it a try. (I wasn’t quite as adventurous back then.) It was called Pretzel Salad. My younger mind just could not conceive the juxtaposition of pretzels and gelatin/Jell-O. It only took one bite to convince me.
So for the curious of mind…here is Strawberry Pretzel Salad.
© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups thin stick pretzels, coarsely crushed
¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese
8 oz. container Cool Whip (I use the Lite Cool Whip)
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2 ½ cups water
1 6 oz. package strawberry Jell-o
2 cups frozen sliced strawberries, thawed and drained
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Evenly spread the pretzels in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.
3. Combine the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pour this evenly over the pretzels.
4. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
5. In a bowl beat cream cheese until soften. Add remaining ¾ cup sugar, vanilla and Cool Whip. Beat at medium speed and make sure mixture is creamy and smooth.
6. Pour and spread over pretzels.
7. To the Jell-o add 2 cups boiling water. Stir until Jell-o is dissolved. Add ½ cup cold water and the strawberries. After the Jell-o cools, pour over the cream cheese mixture.
8. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares to serve.