There’s Always Room – Tropic Sunset Salad

Posted on Apr 12 2014 - 8:15am by Betty Homemaker
Slow Cooker Greek Dinner with Tropic Sunset Salad as a starter. I feel like "Betty Draper: The Good Years"!

Slow Cooker Greek Dinner with Tropic Sunset Salad as a starter. I feel like “Betty Draper: The Good Years”!

 

I have a very vivid memory of a family dinner that took place when I was about six years old.  We had finished a perfectly normal, weeknight dinner when, as a surprise, my mom told us that there was dessert. Dessert! We never had dessert in our house unless it was a holiday or my grandparents were visiting (because…you know…in-laws)! And then she told us something even more unbelievable: my sister had made it. Now, understand that to me my 13 year old sister was the epitome of cool. In my memory, she stands about seven feet tall and sort of glows with a tangible sense of style and teenage ennui. She was, to me, perfect. And now, on top of everything else, she could cook. To give you perspective, I wasn’t even allowed to pour my own cereal.

She walked (nay, sauntered!) over to the fridge and pulled out individual dessert cups filled with chocolate Jell-O pudding. It seemed so elegant! So impressive! So…cool! I was amazed. And, frankly, just thrilled to be getting dessert, which had been a hard-won battle with my mother over an unfairly large spoonful of peas. I’m convinced that my mother missed her true calling as a chief negotiator. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet or so sophisticated as that pudding did.

 

I obviously had to end this little experiment with a little throw back to my sister's Jell-O pudding prowess! Butterscotch on top and chocolate on the bottom!

This is a little pudding treat that I made for the Mister as a nod to my sister’s Jell-O prowess – chocolate on the top, butterscotch on top and garnished with a wafer cookie! Mmmmm…

 

When I think about that particular memory, there are so many others that come tumbling after it: orange-pineapple Jell-O salad served at Easter dinner, making Jell-O jigglers in fun shapes with the kids that I babysat in the summers, the incomparable joy of discovering a Jell-O cup in the lunch that my mom packed for school…it goes on and on. When I started to think about it, I started to realize what a huge part Jell-O has played in the background of my life’s memorable moments.

And it’s not just me! As I was talking with people about this little experiment that I was about to undertake (stay with me! It’s coming!), I discovered that everyone I spoke with had a story about Jell-O. It usually started with, “I remember this thing my grandma used to make…,” or “At Christmas we always had to have…,” or “That reminds of this time that we…” And when they shared these stories and memories with me they always, always smiled. Because that’s what Jell-O seems to do – it brings people together and plays a little, magical part in making a memory or a tradition. It gives families a common link with each other and with the past. But most of all, it makes people smile.

It seems to be that that’s always been the case, too! If you look through old timey cookbooks, they’re chock full of Jell-O recipes (though some are of dubious taste quality, I grant you). I decided that the meals that I make for myself and the Mister needed a little more vintage pinache, so naturally I turned to Jell-O, just like homemakers of yore.

Without further ado, I give you: Tropic Sunrise Salad!

The recipe actually called for me to serve this on a leaf of lettuce and honestly? I love that. So fancy!

The recipe actually called for me to serve this on a leaf of lettuce and honestly? I love that. So fancy!

Tropic Sunset Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Jell-O Salad
Serves: 6 to 8
 
A light, summery Jell-O salad that's actually very flavorful! Would be delightful with a backyard barbecue or with Easter supper!
Ingredients
  • 1 14oz can sliced pineapple rings
  • 2 packages strawberry or raspberry-flavored Jell-O gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ C miniature marshmallows
  • ¼ C chopped nuts
  • Salad greens
Instructions
  1. Remove pineapple from syrup; chill. Save can.
  2. Add enough water to pineapple syrup to make 2.5 cups; heat to boiling. Add gelatin; dissolve. Stir in lemon juice; chill till syrupy.
  3. Fold in marshmallows and nuts; spoon into pineapple can and chill till firm (at least 4 hours).
  4. At serving time, unmold gelatin, sliding mold out on its side. Cut into 6 to 8 slices with sharp knife dipped in hot water. Arrange on salad greens; top with pineapple; serve with your favorite dressing.

The recipe above is transcribed exactly as it appeared in the clipping from Better Homes and Gardens and, while it says that it’s supposed to serve 6 to 8, I found it impossible difficult to remove the mold from the can once it set, so I actually only got three servings out of this. The other slices were neither elegant nor appetizing in appearance. I think that the main reason for this is that today’s pineapple rings come in cans that have a slight lip on the inside of the can which weren’t there when recipe was written (in the early 60s) and that prevents the mold from easily sliding out of the can. So if you could use a glass or a different kind of can, I would recommend that. The only real benefit of using the actual can from the pineapple rings that you’re using is that the rings that you garnish the salad with will be almost the exact same size as your salad slices. I should also note that I did not serve this with my favorite dressing because all we had was Ranch dressing and…yuck.

So elegant! I actually sort of love how colorful it is.

So elegant! I actually sort of love how colorful it is.

About to dig in! Isn't he just the cutest?

About to dig in! Isn’t he just the cutest?

The first bite! Fingers crossed...

The first bite! Fingers crossed…

It's a big thumbs up! Who knew tiny marshmallows suspended in gelatin could be so satisfying? Besides everyone who wrote cookbooks in the 60s I mean.

It’s a big thumbs up! Who knew tiny marshmallows suspended in gelatin could be so satisfying? Besides everyone who wrote cookbooks in the 60s I mean.

He polished his salad off with haste. "Am I supposed to eat the leaf or...?"

He polished his salad off with haste. “Am I supposed to eat the leaf or…?”

 

Success! Frankly, I don’t think that there’s enough food served on lettuce leaves these days. I think I’ll be throwing that into regular rotation. It definitely adds an air of festivity to an otherwise humdrum day!

And isn’t that the point? Isn’t that what we all love about Jell-O? The bright colors, the sweet taste, the endless ways that you can change it up with mix-ins and toppings and flavor combinations, the way that it makes a table seem just a little bit more special…because…it’s Jell-O. You just can’t think about it without smiling and there’s always room for a smile.

WordPress Author Box

I'm a full-time homemaker for my husband and baby son, which I adore! I collect vintage homemaking guides and home economics textbooks for the cuteness factor and also because I find a lot of inspiration in the way that homemaking is portrayed in them. Plus, there's loads of information in them that's still pretty helpful! I knit, crochet, embroider, and sew as well as read voraciously in my free time.

6 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Kath April 12, 2014 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    I’ve never really understood the American fascination with calling desserts “salad” and serving them with salad vegetables. This one actually sounds tasty, but why anyone would call it a salad or put it near a lettuce leaf of any variety boggles my brain!

  2. Jennifer Barnaby April 13, 2014 at 7:40 am - Reply

    I love this! and I completely agree that more things should be served on lettuce.

  3. Heather April 14, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I always enjoy the husband reactions and I see we have a new good sport on the team! I love that the Mister dressed up to try your fancy salad. 🙂

  4. Amorette April 14, 2014 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I remember a great aunt who was a huge fan of Jell-O. It was new in her day. She used to add 7-UP to lime jello and it was weird. Carbon dioxide bubbles in Jell-O! Try it some time.

  5. Cheryl 166 April 14, 2014 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I serve as tradition 2 different jello “salads.”
    At Christmas it is the 3 layers–lime green on the bottom, a filling in the middle that is made with lemon jello and the red raspberry on top. All in a 9×13 glass pan.
    At Thanksgiving and Easter it is the lime green jello with cottage cheese, crushed pineapple, marshmallows and whipped cream.

    Been making these since 1970s. Sons, now adults, always want it included in the holiday menu.
    Be glad to share the recipe if you don’t have them.

  6. Sue Taylor February 22, 2015 at 12:03 am - Reply

    The way to get the “salad” out of the can is to cut off the second end of the can and push it through one of the ends.

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