First, I made Jello from an ingredient that is good soft: Avocado (duh). While it tasted “actually good" according to a Jello-fearing friend, the appearance of avocado Jello is largely unappealing and I didn’t need any more barriers to entry.
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Then I thought about foods that could benefit from some levity, like root vegetables. A beet something schmeared on a cracker sounds...hearty. But beet juice is smooth and clean—in Jello form, it's practically weightless. Beet's best friend, balsamic vinegar, was invited to the Jello mold and then—oddly, suddenly—a beet-vinegar palate cleanser didn’t seem entirely unreasonable.
So what’s good with beets and balsamic? Goat cheese, but we’re not making panna cotta; nuts, but according to highly comprehensive focus groups, there is no crunch allowed in Jello; and citrus and herbs, two ingredients that always hoist a dish up. Ding ding.
Here, some lemon zest and fresh herbs—any you like—get blended with the gelatin and salt and pepper. Not only do you get a bright green color closer to green juice than lime Jello, but you're also able to season the gelatin before pouring it atop the deeply purple beet layer. (Season as you go! We are cooking, after all.)
Also, did you notice I said gelatin instead of Jello right then? While the recipe uses unflavored gelatin (though not artisanal or heritage) instead of colored Jello packets, I'm calling it "Jello salad" regardless. It's my attempt to bring the term out of the 1970s, which seems easier than pulling off bell bottoms with this recipe around.
Okay, maybe there are also some sprouts. Salad likes accessories. Here you see sour cream, apple slices, rye crispbread, and sprouts. But Amanda wanted horseradish, and I also flirted with sauerkraut. We tried an early round with goat cheese and pickled red onions—both good. People I force-fed said the result was “surprisingly refreshing,” something they “would eat all day long.”
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