mom’s green jello salad

I’m going to share with you a dirty little family secret. It’s the recipe that my family can’t resist, the one that’s only served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are into eating only unprocessed and organic foods, you should look away now. Seriously, look away.

Are you ready? This is the secret:

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

My mom’s Green Jello Salad. It’s not really a salad, as you can plainly see from the photo, but for some reason, these concoctions made with Jello are called Jello salad. When this dish is on the table during our holiday meal, there are rarely leftovers. The kids love it, and they usually fight over who gets the maraschino cherries. The adults love it, even though guests are commonly puzzled by what’s exactly in it.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

The ingredients are very simple. Lime-flavored gelatin, cottage cheese, Cool Whip, pineapple, and nuts. And don’t forget the maraschino cherries for decoration, or you’ll have some angry children on your hands.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

I wish I could say that this dish is so much better when I whip the whipped cream by hand using heavy cream or if I avoid the artificially-sweet crimson cherries on top, but it’s really not. This is a side dish – or dessert – that must be made with all of the processed ingredients, exactly as written. I have years and years of taste memories associated with Mom’s Green Jello Salad, and those aren’t found in any altered version of this recipe.

So, while the other dishes on the table at Christmas will be made from scratch using the best fruits and vegetables I can find in my organic market, there will be this one completely processed, as-opposite-of-organic-as-you-can-get dish on my menu.

And you know what? We’ll all go back for seconds.

mom's green jello salad | the merry gourmet

Yield: 6-8 servings

Mom's Green Jello Salad


3 ounce package lime-flavored Jello gelatin
6 ounces cold pineapple juice
1 cup of Cool Whip
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
6 maraschino cherries (or more, depending on your love for maraschino cherries)


Add 1 cup boiling water to gelatin in a bowl; stir 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold pineapple juice. Refrigerate 2 hours, or until half-set.

Remove from refrigerator and add in the Cool Whip, cottage cheese, chopped nuts, and crushed pineapple. Mix until very well incorporated. Garnish with maraschino cherries and chill for at least one hour before serving.

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21 Responses to “a nursing home visit, and a strawberry balsamic pie”

  1. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — February 5, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

    You had me at strawberry balsamic. I will make this but not until strawberries go back down to less than $7 per basket 🙂

    Your nursing home story brings back many memories of my MIL’s scenario. I truly empathize and can vividly remember my own version of the same situation. Stay strong and keep visiting as often as you can.

    Have a great time in San Diego!

  2. Elizabeth — February 5, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

    The pie looks delish!! Can’t wait to try it. My heart goes out to your and your family. The situation with your father is not easy and you have every right to feel the full range of emotions, sometimes repeatedly in one day! It is good for you to visit and even though you think it does not mean something, it does. Deep down inside, it does. It is concerning when you mention all of the items that have gone missing. Maybe a chat with management could rectify that situation. Glasses, hearing aids and clothes are a big deal! I cannot imagine what your Mom is going through. Probably a lot of ‘Thank God he is still here with us’ and ‘Don’t let him suffer needlessly’ which are all normal. Sometimes there is a connection of guilt associated with the latter – all normal. All one wants is for things to go back to when there were good memories. My heartfelt prayers for you and your family.

  3. Kathryn — February 6, 2014 @ 6:10 am

    Oh, this is so familiar. Those half conversations that go round in circles and the knowledge that in 10 minutes, your visit will be forgotten. It’s so, so hard. Much love to you and your family xo

  4. Georgie — February 6, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    I love this pie. It’s beautiful. Very much in like the way you walked me down to the memory of my father, through your father. I was numb for a long time during and after my fathers illness. Though many years later, I remember all the good sweet love he gave us. Those beautiful memories stay with and make me smile now. I know it will be the same for you too. Now, lets see if I can macerated these almost ripe strawberries into sweetness. Huge hugs to you!

  5. Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks — February 6, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    This pie looks amazing! This is coming from a “give me a chocolate cookie or brownie” girl. Your posts about your visits to the nursing home are always so touching. I hope that baking and cooking provide some comfort to you throughout this unwanted journey. Maybe there actually IS a connection to your story and your recipe.
    Safe travels.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 6th, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

      Baking definitely provides comfort. So does the writing about it. Thank you so much for commenting, Carlinne.

  6. Lizthechef — February 6, 2014 @ 11:41 am

    Having been in your situation with parents and in-laws, I would urge you, as a physician, to take a stand with the staff about their neglectful treatment of your beloved father. He needs his vision and hearing supports asap – good luck!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 6th, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

      Oh, Liz, we’ve been all over that nursing home administration and nursing staff. I’ve even had to threaten to file formal complaints with the state. It gets better for at time, then the care lapses. It’s a constant struggle.

  7. Tina — February 6, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

    The pie looks amazing. It is really sad that your dad is still here but he’s not. We all have a terminal illness some just don’t know what it is. Hugs.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 6th, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

      You’re so right about that, Tina. And thanks for those hugs.

  8. jacquie — February 6, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

    I’m sorry for you and your dad. Thank you for being willing and courageous enough to share your story. you are grieving and especially then things don’t need to connect. though perhaps connection is as simple as the pie and the making, eating and sharing of it helps ground you and your loved ones in a very challenging situation.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 6th, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jacquie.

  9. Paula — February 6, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

    Another poignantly beautiful post Merry Jennifer. This pie looks amazing, I love how you did the top crust in strips and adding balsemic vinegar to the strawberry filling must have elevated the taste to over the top wonderful.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 6th, 2014 @ 8:59 pm

      Thank you, Paula. I wish I could take credit for the balsamic genius. The recipe is from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book – those women are talented.

  10. Di — February 10, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    I grieve for you, for your family, for your broken hearts. I have no words beyond this to express my sadness for you all. I have been there.

  11. Vanessa — February 13, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

    Thank you for the recipe. The pie tasted delicious 🙂 My only problem (which very well could just be my lack of pie making skills) was that the juice was still runny, it didn’t thicken up. Any suggestions? Thanks, vanessa

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 14th, 2014 @ 8:54 am

      Did you use the ground arrowroot? That serves as a thickener. Also, if the pie is warm when you slice it, it will be runnier. If you refrigerate the pie, then slice it and let the slice come to room temperature, the pie slice will keep its shape better.

  12. Vanessa — February 14, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the reply. I used ground arrowroot and refrigerated it for a day, maybe I’ll add more arrowroot next time. But, my husband still loved it, so thank you! 😉

  13. Nutmeg Nanny — February 15, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

    My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time, unfortunately I know too well that there aren’t enough words anyone could say to ease this sort of pain.
    Your pie is gorgeous, it looks perfectly done.

  14. lucy — February 19, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    A beautiful pie and a beautiful and heartfelt post. I am so sorry for what you are going through with your father. Can only imagine how hard it must be for everyone, especially your mother. I have no advice and no words of wisdom but will send up a prayer for you and your family.

  15. Jennifer — June 10, 2014 @ 4:50 pm


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