The Festive Walnut Jello Salad

I never thought of my family as having any particularly odd holiday traditions. That is, until I tried to bring what I considered a completely normal festive food to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party a couple years ago. I left before my dish was served, and when I asked him and his girlfriend what they thought about it later, they replied, “It was…retro.”

The Festive Walnut Jello Salad is retro in looks, sure. But it tastes delicious. (Or at least my family thinks so.)

Why, yes. That IS cream cheese on the bottom.

I made this dish just a couple more times for my friends before I realized that it was way too much effort for the number of people who actually liked it. (Possibly just me. I could never tell if others liked it or if they were just being polite.)

Also, if you make any mistakes (or if you try to serve it in warm weather), it ends up looking like a pile of vomit. See?

May is the wrong month for Festive Walnut Salad.

I think of it as a tastier version of cranberry sauce. It has the same flavor in the top layer, but it also has pineapple and walnuts and CREAM CHEESE. (And how can you go wrong with cream cheese?)

And I’m not even saying this because I grew up with it. I refused to eat it until a few years ago, when I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by its deliciousness.

In case any of you out there might be interested in giving this a try–and if you actually own a Jello mold that’s big enough–here’s the recipe:

Festive Walnut Salad
– 3/4 cup walnuts
– 1 cup cranberries
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 2 3 oz packages lemon Jello
– 1.75 cup boiling water
– 3 tbsp lemon juice
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 8.5 oz can pineapple tidbits
– 1 10 oz bottle uncola
– 1 8 oz package softened cream cheese

Toast walnuts at 300 degrees for 10 minutes and set aside. Coarsely chop cranberries, mix with sugar, set aside and let stand. Dissolve Jello in boiling water, stir in lemon juice and salt, drain pineapple syrup into Jello, mix, and cool one hour. Stir in chilled uncola, and cool until thickened. Set aside 1.5 cups for cream cheese layer. Stir cranberries, pineapple, and half of walnuts into remaining Jello, spoon into mold, and chill. Meanwhile, soften cream cheese and blend into set-aside Jello, stir in remaining walnuts, and chill. When the fruited layer is almost set, carefully spoon creamy mixture over it, and chill until solid.

About Meghan Loftus
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