Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Whatever happened to the Jellied Salad?

I don't know about you, but "Jello" jellied salads practically define my entire childhood. There was always something embedded in molded jello, wobbling and glistening at the center of the buffet table.

I happened to love red jello.

When I was in grade school it was popular to invite a few of your teachers to your home for lunch. Those were the days when we walked to and from school, and didn't stay for lunch unless you lived over a mile away.

I really wanted the beautiful kindergarten teacher to marry my homeroom teacher, so I decided to try a little matchmaking over a luncheon of my favourite things. My Mother used to make a tuna casserole that was her signature dish. It was basically a can of tuna and mushroom soup, frozen peas with potato chips "decoratively"? wedged on top. It was served with rice. Why in the world this seemed festive is beyond me, but it was. I wanted her to serve this dish and then have red jello with real whipped cream for dessert. What could be more romantic??

They came, they ate, they were terribly good sports. Years later and much wiser, I found out the kindergarten teacher, unbeknownst to me, was engaged to someone else, and my homeroom teacher batted for the other side, so I was really off the mark in the cupid profession.

At another family function recently, there it was! The orange jellied salad. Mandarin oranges and cottage cheese...a flood of memories. Just try and find a recipe other than in an old church cookbook. The jellied salad has fallen from favour. I want it back. This is a picture of the table at my grandfather's house.
Note all the jellied salads.

The Professor likes tomato aspic which is another incarnation of the jellied salad, but I like the see-through variety where you can pick out the fruit cocktail floating in the bumps of the mold.

This recipe sounds something like the mandarin one, I'm sure you can add just about anything to the "Jello" tastes like a party every time.

Apricot Cottage Cheese Salad with Lemon Juice

Ingredients -

3 oz pack apricot jello
7 oz can apricot halves
12 oz cottage cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup boiling water
Mint leaves, for garnish


Dissolve the jello powder in the boiling water.

Drain the apricots, keeping 1/2 cup of the syrup.

Chop them up.

Add the lemon juice and reserved apricot syrup to the jello mixture, then stir in the cottage cheese and beat in the mayonnaise.

Chill until it is a bit thicker, and then stir in the apricots.

Chill the jello salad until it is firm, then unmold it and garnish it with the mint leaves.


  1. What a charming story, can only do so much, one supposes. I am sure they had a lovely time at your house! I remember 'em fondly. Gelatin dishes are coming back, ya know...Martha (yes, yes) had 2 Brit fellas on w/their book "Jellymongers." I think they call 'em jellies across the pond, lots of booze, etc. in updated recipes. Refreshing!

  2. What wonderful memories were triggered through this post. My mother rarely served a meal to friends and family without some variety of jellied salad. One that I loved as a child was a Xmas recipe, with a layer of red jello and contents separated from a green jello layer and contents, by some sort of dream whip/cream cheese concoction. And then of course the trick was to turn it out perfectly, which was an art in itself.
    Of course the Tupperware mold with the special release top was considered a great invention but only if the mold was properly prepared. I still have a couple of those little numbers tucked away somewhere, so I guess I'll have to give your apricot cottage cheese salad a try.

  3. ah yes... green jello, grated carrots, pineapple, and cottage cheese! No family gathering through the mid 1980's was complete without it. Mayonnaise? You don't say? I'll have to try that.

  4. I always assumed is was a favorite of Jesus and served at The Last Supper. It is certainly in church more often than communion,

  5. I maintained it was bad for 'regularity' not good for those of us with LBS so I swore off it.

  6. I LOVE jellied salad! Especially with grated carrots in it... and.. pineapple? Oddly I made green jello on Wednesday and made orange jello this morning. We haven't been grocery shopping in a few weeks and I'm using up what's in the cupboard (it was left over from pre-"clear liquids only" procedures)
    Oh, and I learned how to make that tuna casserole in grade 7 home ec. It is still a staple in my household. I am SO LAME (and yes, I still make (and love)waldorf salad!!!!)

  7. OMG Leslie -- the craziest thing just happened! I'm cleaning my basement (it's like an archeological dig) and I just came across an old, faded recipe card. I went to put it with some old ephemera, and I read the title. "Tuna Casserole". Creepy.