I guess every family has some weird side dish that surfaces only on holidays, but I think my family’s version is the only one that has been given a name to trick outsiders into thinking that it’s something healthy for you…when it’s totally not. I can’t remember a holiday dinner with my family that didn’t include “green salad”…a funky concoction of lime Jello, cream cheese, crushed pineapple, mini-marshmallows, chopped pecans and maraschino cherries. It’s about as far from a real salad as you could get, and is so sweet that you really ought to eat it for dessert, but then you wouldn’t need pie…so it’s a better idea to just eat it alongside your turkey or ham. Or in a bowl. Or with your fingers. (To say I like this stuff doesn’t even come close!)
One year during the holidays I decided to make our green salad for a work function. I hauled in a huge bowl of the stuff, anticipating the praise I’d get for making something so delicious (“Oh, Tammy…you’re practically the Martha Stewart of our office!” they would say…I couldn’t wait!) I excitedly removed the tin foil (aka aluminum foil…but does anyone really call it that at home?) from the lid to reveal a…well, a mess. That bowl was somehow filled with loose, grey stuff, not the beautiful fluffy delicacy that I’d made the night before!
It turned out that the metal container I used was apparently reactive (as opposed to the safety of Tupperware), and the acidity of the lime and pineapple mix caused a reaction that left the mixture the color of dirty dishwater. It also prevented the jello from setting up properly, so the nasty color was accompanied by a consistency that was, well…not exactly slimy, but not far from it. I couldn’t convince anyone to even touch my sad, almost gelatinous contribution. I finally got my courage up and tried a little, and I was shocked to find that it tasted like…GREEN SALAD! I wondered if my years of indoctrination into the green salad tribe had somehow toughened me up and made me immune to grey salad, and I loaded up my plate.
Now, if I could only find a way to make a casserole with only those crunchy canned onions and no green beans…we could call it ‘root vegetable surprise’!