Virgin Recipe: Jellied Salad Niçoise

photo of the salad before serving

Jellied Salad Niçoise

Did you miss me last week? No? Okay, but I missed you. I missed you so much, I made you this lovely Jellied Salad Niçoise.

lettuce, green beans, green pepper, tuna, heavy cream, tomato, lemon Jell-O, vinegar, anchovies, mayonnaise, red onion, Good Seaons Italian dressing, black olives, egg

It’s hard to imagine, but all of these things went into a single Jell-O recipe.

These savory Jell-O recipes keep disappointing me – not because they’re so bad, but because they’re not bad enough. Jellied Salad Niçoise had so much potential, and then failed to live up to it. Just look at the motley crew of ingredients I had to assemble for this. Anchovies! Mayonnaise! Italian dressing! The only way that this could come out was “badly”.

So I got stuck into preparing it, and this was possibly the most involved Jell-O recipe I’ve done so far. It took a good two hours to put together, much of which involved chopping vegetables, although it all started off with hard-boiling an egg.

picture of the recipe as it appears in the book

Proof that I am not making this up…

Rather than describe the whole process, I’m just going to give you a picture of the recipe, straight out of the book. Even just reading it, it sounds kind of nuts.

The weirdest part is that it requires what I think of as “a single batch” (that is, a three-ounce box) of Jell-O, with less cold water than usual. It wasn’t enough to cover the solid ingredients in the mold, and I was sure that when I went to unmold it, the whole thing would fall apart and be a complete disaster. I was pretty excited by that prospect, because I thought it would make for some good video. It’s been too long since this blog has lived up to its true potential as a sort of culinary “Jackass”, and I was hopeful, but this surprised me. As you can see from the photo, Jellied Salad Niçoise unmolded unexpectedly well. I was sure that the loose bed of chopped lettuce at the bottom would make the whole thing unstable and lead to a collapse, but I suppose by now I should have more faith in the Jell-O.

For eating, it wasn’t very good, but it could have been worse. It turned out that one chopped up boiled egg wasn’t enough to stink up the whole dish, and even the anchovy-tinged mayonnaise was less repulsive than it could have been (unless, I suppose, you’re one of those people who just hate mayonnaise on principle).

tuna-veggie salad in mold before adding Jell-O

Jellied Salad Niçoise Sans Jelly

While I was in the midst of making it, Bryan strolled into the kitchen and pointed out that, if not for the Jell-O, this wouldn’t be such a terrible recipe. Indeed, the Salad Niçoise didn’t look so bad in the mold before I poured Jell-O over it and piled on the chopped lettuce. Aside from leaving out the Jell-O, I would have preferred a simpler dressing, just some oil and vinegar with a little salt and pepper, which is what I generally prefer for salad dressing. We don’t use store-bought bottled dressings, which is why I used the Good Seasons.

Needless to say, Bryan and I didn’t eat more than one portion of Jellied Salad Niçoise, and the rest went straight into the garbage disposal. A donation is being made to Action Against Hunger to atone.

I’m trying not to go too heavy on the politics here, but I’m still resisting, and for the video I wore a “pussy hat” made by my friend Donna, who has an Etsy shop and has been doing a brisk business in pussy hats lately. (She also makes other kinds of hats, jewelry, accessories, and toys.) If you like it, please check out her shop, Via Donna, at

7 responses

  1. Wonderful! I’ve been working on a series called Questionable Recipes Songs and as I was putting the final touches on Jellied Salad Nicoise, took a chance and looked to see if anyone had written about this recipe. Wow, what a great find. What you’re doing is true fun. So, I’m sharing my Soundcloud posting of the song. I credit your blog for the photo but will absolutely remove it if you have any objections whatsoever. Hope you enjoy the song! My tune SpahaghettiOs Cupcakes even got picked up by Bon Appetit. I’m currently working on a couple of pieces regarding the invention of instant cake mix.


    1. You’re welcome to use the photo, such as it is, with due credit. Thank you so much for the link to the song! It’s delightful. My husband said it really captures the experience of the dish – though I hope you’re not cooking these things before you write songs about them. I’m curious to check out the series, so do send along a link if you like.


  2. Thanks for allowing me to use your photo. And glad you enjoyed the song. As for capturing the experience of the dish, I’ll take your husband’s word for it because, no, cooking these recipes is not even close to likely at our house. I do, however, applaud your courage in cooking and tasting your way through The New Joys of Jell-O. Terri Peterson, my longtime artistic and life-collaborator got this project going when someone who likes her writing about food sent her a copy of the Campbell Co’s Cooking With Soup cookbook. That inspired “Delicious Meat-shell Pie” (see link in my comment details).

    And then Terri spotted a story about a strange recipe in Bon Appetit which resulted in “SpaghettiOs Cupcakes” and it got picked up by their online edition. (I’ll put that link in a separate comment.)

    Your Jell-O project is great fun and much in the spirit in which I hope these songs are taken. Keep the joy going!
    The first of my invention of the instant cake songs might be called “Add One Egg”, but we’ll see.


    1. I think we have that Campbell’s Cooking with Soup book.

      I put links for your songs in my latest post to increase visibility. They really helped cheer me up this weekend. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one drawing inspiration from those weird old recipes.


      1. Of course you own Cooking With Soup! Hearing that gave us a great laugh. And that’s very generous of you to write about my songs. In the inevitable ongoing FB discussion about my song, I posted links to this blog. If they like the song they’ll want to see the blog.


  3. Here’s the SpaghettiOs Cupcakes link


  4. […] before I get into that, I’d like to direct the reader to Jellied Salade Niçoise, where just a couple of days ago I received a very nice comment from songwriter George Potor, who […]


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