Every family has their traditions. Especially when it comes to food. We pass our recipes down from generation to generation, each potentially tweaking it to add their own flair. Sometimes we find that our dishes are well-known across the world, with every family we know eating the same thing made different ways. Other times we realize that when we mention our favorite dish, no one knows what the heck we’re talking about!
Such is the case of 7 Up Salad. This has been a staple at holiday meals in my family for as long as I’ve been alive. My mom got the recipe from my dad’s mom, and she gave the recipe to me. It’s stunningly simple to make, and I can’t imagine a meal without it. And while I’ve always felt free to add to or change recipes in my life, I’ve never felt the need to change this one. It’s just perfect.
We begin by gathering our ingredients.
7 oz 7-Up Soda
8 oz mini marshmallows
1 small box of lime jello
6 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 jar maraschino cherries
1 C crushed pinapple
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 tub of Cool Whip (thawed)
To begin, heat up the 7-Up in a pot on the stove and dump in the mini marshmallows.
Stir them in until they dissolve.
Once the marshmallows are totally incorporated into the hot soda, add the entire packet of lime jello. Beware – this kind of looks like toxic green sludge! My son said it looked like the goo that formed the Ninja Turtles (great imagination!).
Remove the pot from the heat and add in the cream cheese, stirring and then whisking until it is a nice smooth consistency. The cream cheese will tone down the green a little bit, and the whole concoction will bulk up a little.
Now that the main part of your “salad” is done, we can grab our cherries and cut them up. It’s up to you how you do it. You can leave them whole or cut them in half (as I do). You can even chop them smaller if you’d like. I like nice bite sized morsels that show in the salad. I want anyone who sees it and eats it to know what it is.
Then we add the cherries and the pineapple to the jello mixture. Truthfully I’ve no idea how much pineapple I actually add. I eyeball it, and it generally works fine. I reckon it’s about a cup. I personally think it’s important to use crushed pineapple, as it almost dissolves in the dish and it flavors it without being overly obvious. You can use chunks if you’d rather, but there’s the danger of it being too chewy. You also lose some of the juiciness of crushed pineapple. But hey, it’s all about taste!
The last part is a little bit odd, but it works. And you have to trust me on this. Mix the half cup of mayonnaise into the tub of Cool Whip. Then add the whole mix to your jello mix. I’m not entirely sure why the mayo is in there, but I think it’s to cut down on the sweetness a little bit. Regardless of the reason, I’ve never tried this without it, and I’m not about to start. I promise you can not even remotely taste the mayonnaise.
Once everything is finally combined, dump the whole thing into your favorite jello mold. I am ashamed to say that since our move a few months ago, I do not actually own a single mold, and I had to make do with just a big plastic bowl. It is so much more festive in a mold. Growing up, my mom would either put it into a Frosty the Snowman mold or (my personal favorite) a wreath mold. Given the green color and the pretty cherries that show through, the wreath is beautiful.
But hey, you do what you gotta do, and presentation isn’t everything.
Once you’ve poured it out, cover in plastic wrap (or if your mold has a lid, use that) and let set in the fridge for three hours or overnight. Then it’s time to dig in!
You can either serve straight from the mold (or bowl, in this case) or turn it out onto a serving plate. It’ll taste great either way.
Try it at your next holiday meal and let me know how it goes! I’ve never met another person who makes it, but everyone I’ve shared it with has loved it.