Poinsettia Salad/Fruit-Salad Dressing (c.1928) ★★★★

I have this jar of maraschino cherries that has been sitting in my fridge for ages, because I bought them for some other historical recipe and never used them again. When I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it. I'm killing two birds with one stone here: using up some cherries AND making a recipe for my 4 Weeks of Yuletide.

Because there was no dressing specified, I decided on using the recipe for Fruit-Salad Dressing from the same cookbook. Because I was lazy, I didn't bother actually making up a whole batch of it, and just combined the ingredients without the eggs. I imagine it would have thickened up to something like a curd and probably would've been quite tasty over this salad.

Original Recipe:
85. POINSETTIA SALAD--Cream cheese, such as Neufchâtel or Philadelphia cream cheese, combines very well with some fruits and vegetables. It is used with pineapple and cherries in the preparation of poinsettia salad, which is illustrated in Fig. 11. As can be imagined, this makes a pretty decoration for a Christmas table or a salad to be served around holiday time.

(Sufficient to Serve Six)
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese
  • Lettuce
  • 2 Tb. cream
  • 4 maraschino cherries
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Salad dressing
  • 6 rounds pineapple
Mix the cream cheese with the cream and salt, and form this into small round balls with the fingers. Place the rounds of pineapple on salad plates garnished with lettuce, and put the cheese ball in the center of the pineapple. Cut the maraschino cherries in half, and then cut each half into narrow strips that resemble petals of a flower. Place five or six of these over the top of the cream cheese with the points meeting in the center, as shown in the illustration. Serve with any desired dressing, but instead of adding the dressing to the salad put it in a mayonnaise bowl and allow each person at the table to add it.

74. FRUIT-SALAD DRESSING.--Various dressings may be served with fruit salad, and usually the one selected depends on the preference of those to whom it is served. However, an excellent dressing for salad of this kind and one that most persons find delicious is made from fruit juices thickened by means of eggs. Whenever a recipe in this Section calls for a fruit-salad dressing, this is the one that is intended.
  • 1/2 c. pineapple, peach, or pear juice
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
Mix the fruit juices, add the sugar, beat the eggs slightly, and add them. Put the whole into a double boiler and cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the fire and beat for a few seconds with a rotary egg beater. Cool and serve.
The Verdict:
Umm...kind of weird. Because the cream cheese was salted, it was confusing and strange with the sweet dressing and fruit. It wasn't bad, though. I think with some modifications  I would actually eat this and even make it again. I would add sweetener and perhaps some vanilla or lemon flavouring to make the cream cheese more like a raw cheesecake ball. Also, the cream is really unnecessary? And maybe use 2 or 3 rings of pineapple, because, um, this "salad" is a really pathetic amount of food. It's obviously supposed to be mostly ornamental, likely as part of a crazy historical meal with 24 courses or something. I give it 3 stars as is, or 4 stars with the above modifications.

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 4)
LETTUCE, 1 leaf per person
PINEAPPLE, 1-3 rings per person
CREAM CHEESE, 2 tablespoons per person
SUGAR, 1/2 teaspoon per person
VANILLA or LEMON extract

1/2 cup PINEAPPLE JUICE (if using canned pineapple, use the juice from the can)
1/4 cup SUGAR

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients in a double boiler or in a saucepan over low heat. Cook until thickened and beat with a hand mixer when done. Let cool.
2. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and flavouring. Let it sit in the fridge if it needs to firm up before forming into balls. Slice the cherries into thin strips.
3. Assemble the plates as pictured: lettuce, pineapple, cheese ball. Arrange the strips of cherry on top of the cheese ball to make a flower shape.
4. Serve with the dressing on the side.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. This looks like something we ate in the 1950s. It was intended to look Hawaiian. The entire lettuce leaf affair was lifted onto the plate of food for the customer. With it we probably ate coleslaw, rice salad, and a T-bone steak. We would have had a tall glass of pineapple juice too. Imagine us sitting in a garden by a pool and wearing bright coloured frocks as we ate and listened to Elvis Presley songs.

  2. Have you seen this? http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/ The University of Iowa has an extensive collection of (mostly) handwritten cookbooks that they are working on transcribing, dating from the 1700s to the 1900s. If you haven't come across it before, definitely check it out!

    1. I hadn't! Thank you, though, that looks awesome!

  3. That is one odd recipe, but I imagine it could be good. If I had a pack of those cherries in the fridge they wouldn't last long...the mice (hubby) always get to things!