Somehow, we got into the business of making old-fashioned salads for our free drive-thru meal ministry at a United Methodist church in Knoxville, Tennessee. That may have happened because we have limited oven and storage space, so we aim to have at least one cold dish to make ahead and stash in the refrigerator.
At our Easter Saturday takeout lunch, we served “Strawberry Fluff Salad” alongside the holiday ham. Everyone who saw it said, “Oh, my mother/grandmother used to make that.” Kitty, one of our regular volunteers, tasted it and said, “Oh, I forgot how good it is.”
This salad (or is it a dessert?) won’t win awards for nutrition or originality. A 2019 NPR story lumped our salad in with a pistachio-flavored version (known famously as “Watergate Salad”) before dismissing it with, “The salad became a food grandmas made, a staple of church basements.”
Anyway, our guests loved this easy and inexpensive blend of fruit-flavored gelatin, whipped topping (Cool Whip), cottage cheese, and crushed pineapple. I grew up with a lime-green version including chopped pecans or walnuts, traditionally served at Christmastime. We just called it “Green Jello Salad.” Kitty said her family called it “Green Mush.” I’ve also heard about salads with similar ingredients and different fruit flavors that families affectionately called “Pink Stuff” or “Green Goop.”
We picked strawberry-flavored gelatin for our Easter salad, which inspired us to slice one perfect strawberry – a tip of the hat to the first fruits of spring – on each serving.
Strawberry Fluff Salad
- 15-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 16-ounce container cottage cheese
- 3-ounce package strawberry gelatin
- 8-ounce container whipped topping, thawed
- Fresh strawberries (optional)
Combine pineapple, cottage cheese, pineapple, and gelatin in a bowl. Stir well. (Don’t prepare the gelatin with boiling water — just mix in the powder.)
Fold whipped topping in with other ingredients until combined. Do not over mix to keep the salad “fluffy.”
Refrigerate until serving time. If desired, slice fresh strawberries over each serving.
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