In the South, we know that “salad” doesn’t always mean that lettuce is involved. Or vegetables, for that matter. Colorful, quivering congealed salads have long been a favorite side dish on luncheon tables across the South, and we’ve published a lot of them over the years. Congealed salads are typically made from a variety of ingredients—fruit, cottage cheese, marshmallows, nuts, olives—suspended in one or more flavors of gelatin. Depending on the mold used, the salad can look as simple as something you’d see in a cafeteria line, or as ornate as a jeweled crown.
This recipe for Orange Sherbet Salad, from April 1966, is the very first congealed salad recipe to appear in Southern Living. As the name reveals, it is made with a pint of orange sherbet. The sherbet is mixed into warm orange gelatin so that it melts, creating a creamy base for the salad. When the gelatin-sherbet mixture is partially set, you stir in crushed pineapple, miniature marshmallows, mandarin orange sections, and whipped cream. Then, the salad is chilled until firm. Orange Sherbet Salad, like all congealed salads, should be unmolded carefully onto a chilled plate or platter. (A warm plate will melt the gelatin.) If the congealed salad won’t easily come out of the mold, give the mold a gentle shake and carefully run a paring knife around the edge of the mold to release the salad. Or, you can dip the mold into a large bowl of warm water for a few seconds before unmolding the salad onto a plate.
2 (3-oz.) packages orange-flavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 pint orange sherbet
1 (8 1/2-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 (8 1/2-oz.) can mandarin orange sections, drained
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
How to Make It
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water in a large heatproof bowl. Add orange sherbet and stir until completely combined. Add other ingredients, folding in the whipped cream last. Chill until firm.