This 1950’s-era Emerald Salad recipe has been on my list for a while now, mostly because I have THREE of them.
One of the recipe cards is handwritten by my grandmother and another was typed on a typewriter, probably by my great aunt Nell. My grandma’s name is written at the top, meaning she was at some point the recipe’s source. The third card is a duplicate of the original that also came from Nell’s files. Nell might have liked my grandma’s recipe enough to have asked for it twice! These details matter (to me, anyway) because the mere presence of a recipe in a collection doesn’t always mean somebody actually made it and enjoyed it (case in point: Molded Chef Salad). But based on the evidence, I can confidently say that my grandmother really did make this jello salad and at least one other relative prepared it numerous times.
For this project I decided to go with the oldest version of the recipe, an index card splattered with a mysterious decades-old liquid and yellowed with age. Where my grandmother acquired it is anyone’s guess; it appears to have been a fairly common recipe.
- 1 pkg lemon jello (3 oz)
- 1 pkg lime jello (3 oz)
- 2 c. liquid (pineapple juice and water)
- 1 c. drained crushed pineapple
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. nuts
- 1 c. cottage cheese
Heat liquid. Dissolve jello. Allow jello to set. Whip jello & fold in remaining ingredients. Set in molds. Fill center with fruit or garnishes if molded in large mold.
The first step is very easy; simply dissolve the jello in a heated blend of pineapple juice and water. I was able to glean about a cup of juice from the crushed pineapple, so I used equal parts juice and water. Once dissolved, I poured it into a mixing bowl and set it over ice until it was cool enough to put in the refrigerator.
After an hour or so the jello seemed to be set well enough to begin adding the rest of the ingredients. I whipped it with a whisk until the jello was pretty well broken up – but not smooth – then added the pineapple, cheese and cream. I threw in a bunch of chopped walnuts because for some reason my grandma and walnuts go well together in my mind. She didn’t specify which nut on the recipe so I suppose you could use pecans or pistachios or whatever nut you feel like using.
I started to become concerned when I squeezed what seemed like half a bottle of mayonnaise into a measuring cup. With each wet pffft squirt of the bottle I was fighting against three decades of culinary conditioning. Mayonnaise goes with jello, right? Riiight?
I initially gently folded everything together as directed but then second-guessed the thoroughness of my first jello whipping. Were the jello chunks too big? Would it mold properly? So I stirred it all together a bit more vigorously so ensure the ingredients were well blended and the green color was evenly distributed. Scooped it into a mini ring and a 6-cup mold (don’t even try to pour it) and let it set overnight.
This jello salad is delicious.
At first I wasn’t sure if the bar was just set so low from last week’s adventure that I only thought I liked it. But then my husband ate his whole piece without gagging and my brother went back for seconds! My neighbor also thoroughly enjoyed it, as it reminded her of something her grandma used to make years ago. While I don’t remember my grandmother ever serving us jello salads other than a cranberry one around Christmas, something about this emerald salad just rocketed me back to childhood. I swear I’ve eaten this before.
The flavor is oddly familiar and all the ingredients work together really well. It’s not too sweet but still has a touch of that refreshing lime tartness. The texture is also surprisingly not off-putting, even with the cottage cheese and the nuts. It’s creamy and almost…foamy. Kind of like a mousse.
Jello in any form is not something I normally eat, but I might consider adding this recipe into the dessert rotation. For real, not just for research and entertainment purposes. It finishes well and makes you want to take another bite, and another. I would know, since I have actually been eating it this whole time.