Described as a “Dazzling, delicious rainbow of fresh vegetables at you dinner table,” the Vegetable Trio come from The Joys of Jell-O Gelatin Dessert, published in 1962. This little cookbook was in circulation at the height of Jell-O’s commercial success and it’s filled with all kinds of “dazzling” vegetable salads.
Apparently, when my mother was young, my grandmother made a lime Jell-O, carrot, and cabbage mold every Thanksgiving. My grandma was the only one that ate it, so no one could figure out why she made it every single year. I think my grandmother was under the same strange hypnotist’s spell that Jell-O somehow manged to cast over all mid-20th century housewives.
Today, we take my grandmother’s recipe up a notch with the Vegetable Trio: lemon Jell-o, carrots, cabbage, and spinach in three glorious layers.
There’s something very satisfying about layering Jell-O: you get to watch chemistry in action and get a very pretty result. Lovely to look at–but how did the Trio taste? About how you’d imagine raw vegetables in lemon Jell-O would taste. In fact, we were all puzzled by the result of this recipe: “I don’t understand how they wanted this to taste?” “Was this the intent of the recipe?” “Raw vegetables in Jell-O is really unappealing.”
I don’t why I had this wild hope that dishes like the Trio would be a revelation; a long-lost exploration in mind-blowing flavor. I thought these Jell-O recipes were just waiting to be dusted off and reintroduced to a new, enthusiastic audience. I always thought: “If they tasted so bad, why would they have been so popular?” I really don’t get it.
Tomorrow, we end on a high note.