One of my family’s Easter traditions is Easter Bunny “King Salad”, a molded jello salad from the 60’s. In those days, molded jello salads were standard fare at potlucks. How does a family tradition like this one begin? I want to give credit where credit is due… I do remember how this one got started.
Years ago my Aunt Edie came to our house in Vermont for a family reunion and brought a jello salad that everyone enjoyed. It was lime green, molded in a loaf pan, and served on a bed of lettuce. She had been given the recipe and shared it with us. I remember that my grandmother really liked it, so we made it when she came to visit. It was one of the first recipes that I was able to make as a little girl. When I left home to live on my own, I copied some of the recipes from my mother’s recipe box. This was one of them.
I wrote the recipe on a brand new white card… it doesn’t seem that long ago to me. But I must admit that my own recipe cards are getting old and brown, written in my younger handwriting. Having this personal connection to the past is sweet, and I treasure every recipe in my own box that is written in the handwriting of the contributor, many of whom have died. I hope that people are still hand writing recipes, not just sharing them electronically.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to buy this set of mixing bowls…exactly like the ones that my mother had when we were growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. I remember each bowl like an old friend, and I remember when each of them was broken…all except the big yellow one, which might still be in her cupboard. This year when I was ready to make my King Salad, it was especially fun to use that big yellow bowl, just like the one that taught me to cook as a child.
Dissolving jello was one of my first cooking lessons. I would stir and stir…it seemed like an eternity until my mother would tell me the jello was completely dissolved in the boiling water.
I usually rely on my memory to make this salad every Eastertime. How could I forget the crushed pineapple? But this year I forgot, so I had to drive to the little market at a nearby campground to buy pineapple chunks, and crushed them myself in the Vitamix.
When my own children were small, I found a bunny jello mold and started using it for the King Salad every Easter. I ladle the mixture into the mold carefully, and put the leftovers into smaller molds to use later in the week after Easter.
Every year we look forward to our Easter Bunny jello salad, even though our children are grown and moving out on their own. This year I dressed up the Bunny with parsley, strawberries, fresh mango and a few slices of kiwi fruit. The first one to dig in gets the bunny ears!
Here is the recipe:
1 large box lemon jello
1 large box lime jello
2 cups boiling water
1 – 2 cups crushed pineapple
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 cans evaporated milk (or use coconut milk)
1 cup chopped pecan or walnut pieces
Stir the boiling water into the powdered jello until the jello has dissolved completely. Let the mixture cool. Add pineapple, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, evaporated milk and nuts. Stir to combine. Pour into molds or loaf pans. Chill until firm. Garnish with parsley and fruit.
Note: This makes a double batch. If you are filling one jello mold, use the regular size (small) box of Jello and half the quantity of the other ingredients. I’m so used to making enough for a crowd that I may have gone overboard on this one!
Happy Spring to all of you!