Summer picnics and winter carry-ins are some of my favorite events because I get to try a variety of interesting dishes and a smorgasbord of flavors and cuisines. A few weeks ago our condo association had its annual end of the summer picnic, and boy can these people cook… pasta salads, cookie bars, cakes, deviled eggs, and three different kinds of slaw. I had to get two plates just to try a taste of everything!
Michelle found this recipe in an old Methodist church cookbook used to make it with her grandma for special occasions or just a random visit home. It always pleases a crowd. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this version is a little different from most like it with the addition of the crushed pineapple and juice. I’ve lightened it up a little bit with some adjustments to quantities and ingredients, and of course, our version is gluten-free.
Preheat the oven to 350º and crush a bag of Snyder’s pretzel sticks in a food processor. You will probably need to do it in several small batches. These are our favorite GF pretzel because they have a great flavor and crunch. Melt 2 sticks of butter and pour over the pretzels in a 9×13 baking pan. Stir together until everything is coated and all of the butter is absorbed. Place into the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place directly in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it off.
While the pretzels are baking, cream together an 8 oz package of 1/3 fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese (also called Neufchatel Cheese) and 1 cup of Whey Low Type D Sugar Replacement (you could use regular sugar) until smooth and creamy. Fold in an entire regular size tub of Cool Whip Sugar Free being careful not to over work the air out.
Spoon the mixture over the pretzels and spread into an even layer. If the pretzels are still hot, they will melt the Cool Whip mixture. Make sure to seal all of the edges of the pan so that the jello layer doesn’t soak through and make the pretzels soggy.
Drain a 14 ounce can of crushed pineapple and reserve 1 cup of liquid. Sprinkle the pineapple over the pan as evenly as you can.
Cut a large package of strawberries into 1/4 inch slices and arrange on top. I like to make it look pretty, but you could just dice them up and throw them on if you’re in a hurry. If strawberries are not in season, you could thaw a package of frozen ones, but rather than layer them like this, chop them and add directly to the jello in the next step along with the pineapple and juice. Place the pan in the fridge while you make the jello.
In 1 cup of boiling water, dissolve a large package of sugar-free strawberry Jello. Add the 1 cup of reserved pineapple juice and cool in the fridge for about 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Pour over the top, getting jello into all of the nooks and crannies. Let the whole thing chill until solid, about an hour and a half, before serving.
I’m not really sure if this is a salad or a dessert, but at either end of the buffet table it will be good and you probably won’t have any leftovers. Speaking of, this does not hold very well overnight. I would really encourage you to make it the day you plan to serve it. The total prep time including the time for the jello to set up is about 2 – 2 1/2 hours and you really can’t rush jello.
What’s your favorite Jello salad recipe? Share a link in the comments.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 1 bag of gluten-free pretzel sticks
- 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, melted
- 8 oz 1/3 fat Neufchatel cream cheese
- 1 cup Whey Low Sugar (or regular)
- 1 regular tub of Sugar Free Cool Whip, thawed
- 1 cup crushed pineapple
- 20 oz package of fresh strawberries, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup pineapple juice (reserved from the crushed pineapple)
- 6 oz box of Sugar Free Strawberry Jello (that’s the big box)
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Crush the pretzels in a food processor and mix in a 9×13 pan with melted butter. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool in the freezer.
Cream the cream cheese and sugar with a mixer until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip and spread over the pretzel crust. Make sure to seal all of the edges so the jello can’t leak through later.
Top the cream cheese layer with the pineapple and then arrange the strawberries on top.
In boiling water, dissolve the jello and mix in the juice. Chill slightly, but do not over thicken. Pour over the strawberry layer and chill in the refrigerator until set completely, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.