Strawberry Pretzel Salad Is the Strange Jello Side Dish You Didn’t Know You Needed for Thanksgiving
Unless you grew up in the South eating strawberry pretzel salad (and I didn’t), the dish makes little to no sense—at least when you hear its name. When I first did, I imagined a jumble of mini pretzels and strawberries, tossed together with some sort of vinaigrette. Turns out I was wildly wrong about that, but the truth was hardly more logical: Strawberry pretzel salad is a kind of icebox pie with a crushed-pretzel crust, a cream cheese filling, a layer of strawberries encased in strawberry gelatin, and a creamy whipped topping. In other words, nothing like a salad at all.
Strawberry pretzel salad comes from a long line of 50’s-era gelatin-based recipes that are resolutely described as “salads,” despite the fact that they are jiggly rather than tossable. Perhaps these dishes were categorized that way due to the manner they were served: you’ll often find strawberry pretzel salad, and other southern gelatin “salads,” right alongside the savory side dishes at Southern buffets.
In fact, as transgressive as it sounds to a Yankee like me, strawberry pretzel salad is a Thanksgiving tradition for some families down south. Initially, I chalked up my shocked disbelief to simple cultural differences, like my bafflement at candy-sweet sweet tea and mayonnaise-y ambrosia salad. But when I discovered a recipe for the dish on Epicurious, I decided to investigate further. Sure, this is a slightly non-traditional version, what with the tart pan instead of the casserole dish, the fresh strawberries instead of the frozen, and the real whipped cream instead of the “whipped topping” that many traditional recipes call for. But all the basic elements were intact, and I figured it would give me the understanding I was looking for.
Read more: www.epicurious.com