When I told my sweetie I was going to make this particular salad this week — perfect for summer picnics — he chuckled and said, “That’s not a salad. That’s a pie.” I wanted to state all the reasons he’s wrong, but the fact is this is definitely a variation on an icebox pie.
I was looking for a fruit salad when I came across this Paula Deen recipe for a strawberry pretzel salad. I don’t follow too much of her stuff but I do know when I’m looking for an unhealthy Southern dish or dessert, Deen’s recipes are always worth a look. This salad more than fits the category — even if it’s called a salad.
It’s got a salty, buttery crust, cream cheese and sugar, and it’s topped with fruit and Jell-0, spread in a large casserole dish.
Like any good icebox pie, it takes time, mostly because it’s layered and each layer needs to be chilled; otherwise, it’s pretty easy and doesn’t take much work. And my goodness, it is a delightful treat that is perfect for sharing on a hot summer day.
So, it may not be much of a salad but for this season, it counts.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter
3 tablespoons ¾ cups sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces whipped cream, plus more for serving (Recipe calls for Cool Whip, but I made mine — with extra for serving — by beating 2 cups heavy cream with 4 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks formed)
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
20 ounces frozen sliced strawberries
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
Heat oven to 400 F. Mix together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press mixture into a 9 X 13-inch casserole dish. Bake crust for about 7 minutes. Let cool before completing the next step.
Beat together cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar. Fold in 8 ounces whipped cream (if you followed my whipping cream recipe above, that’s half of the whipped cream). Spread mixture on top of cooled crust. Refrigerate until chilled or overnight.
Finally, mix together Jell-O packages with 2 cups boiling water. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes; add sliced strawberries and crushed pineapple. Pour mixture over cream cheese filling. Let chill about 3 to 4 hours before serving, and enjoy!