Thursday, May 27, 2010

Retro Recipes: Jello Vegetable Salad

I have a few interests in my life that go along with my passion for genealogy.   Two other of my interests are quilt history and cookbook/food history.  I like to look at genealogy through a social history lens, not just collecting names and dates, but truly understand what life was like in an earlier time. 

So one of my collections is old cookbooks.  I find them interesting and in some cases they are of genealogical value-something I will write about later.  As I look at some of these recipes I wonder, "did people really eat these things?"

Case in point, jello salads using vegetables.  Now I know that plenty of people have ate tomato aspics and I think I have ate jello with carrots in it.  I actually had a coworker make an aspic for a potluck about 20 years ago.  But did you or a family member actually prepare and eat jello salads with such ingredients as onions, cabbage, lettuce, radishes, olives, pimentos, bell peppers, celery, etc.  Maybe you even went as far as adding tuna, shrimp or salmon.

Now, I don't mean this as a way to make fun of your eating habits.  I really want to know how prevalent this type of salad was for people in the 1950s to 1970s. Obviously taste preference changes with different historical eras and even regionally.  Anyone knows from watching the Food Channel that what they eat in a different country or even in a different region may not appeal to everyone. At one time Jello did make a vegetable flavored gelatin for use in these types of salads.  This flavor apparently didn't last long. But if you family enjoyed such salads, was it because it made vegetables "interesting"? Was it just because it was a fad?  What is your familiy's experience with these salads?

One of my cookbooks in my collection is the Joys of Jell-O by General Foods Corporation, circa 1963.  There are a plethora of vegetable salad recipes in this cookbook, that are most likely not seen as delicious by our present tastes.  A good example is a recipe simply titled Vegetable Salad.

Vegetable Salad
Your favorite vegetables can be used in this very versatile salad.

1 package (3 oz) Jell-O Lemon, Lime, Lemon-Lime, Orange or Orange-Pineapple Gelatin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons grated onion
Dash of pepper
3/4 cup finely chopped cabbage*
3/4 cup finely chopped celery*
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper*
2 tablespoons diced pimentos*

*or use any vegetable cobination listed below or 1 to 2 cups of your favorites.

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin and salt in boiling water.  Add cold water, vinegar, onion and pepper. Chill until very thick. Then fold in vegetables. Por into a 1-quart mold or individual molds. Chill until firm. Unmold. Makes about 3 cups, or 6 side salads or 8 to 10 servings.

Other Vegetable Combinations:

Use 1 1/4 cups cauliflower florets and 1/4 cup diced pimentos
Use 3/4 cup diced tomato and 1/2 cup each diced cucumber and celery
Use 3/4 cup grated carrots and 1/4 cup finely chopped green peppers
Use 1 1/2 cups finally chopped cabbage, 1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Use 1/2 cup each thinly sliced radishes and chopped celery and 1/4 cup thin onion rings.

You can read a blog posting from Michael Procopio who actually made this salad at his blog Word Eater. Apparently, it is not as easy and beautiful as it is in the Jell-O cookbook.


Joan Miller said...

Hi Gena,
I have had such a salad, as a child. It usually appeared at summer picnics or 'functions' such as afternoon teas and community events. Our version usually was green or red jello with a common theme of grated cabbage and carrots.


Gena Philibert Ortega said...

I remember eating salads like this, which were very popular with the bridge club ladies. Both my mother and grandmother belonged to bridge clubs, which included luncheon and cards. My favorite was the corned beef one, similar to what you see here:,1843,150182-245202,00.html

It was white because of the salad dressing. Sounds totally weird, but it was real good.

Thank you,

Pamela A. Warren
My genealogy blog
My personal blog
Bill's pictures

Griselda said...

Great post!
I used to love red salad but have never tried green or yellow and grated cabbage and carrots sound ...very different. I will give it a try.

I love your blog!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!
The first time my grandma served this, it was on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of Miracle Whip (NOT mayo for once). I thought this was the weirdest thing and then it kinda grows on you. Now the third generation asks for it frequently at family gatherings. My grandma added shredded sharp cheddar cheese and celery seed after the jello cooled but before it set.