When I first started food blogging a little over a year ago, several people urged me to try a tomato aspic, so I knew it must be a notoriously unappetizing dish. I just think jellied foods are weird in general! And as someone who grew up with a dog as a pet – a dog that sometimes ate canned dog food – I am inherently suspicious of any food item that makes a shhhloooup noise when it releases from its upended container.
But the picture in the Betty Crocker Good and Easy Cookbook was just too delightfully awful not to do it. How could I resist?
So, yes… it looks terrible. When taking your first bite of this, what you need to do is close your eyes. Close your eyes and pretend for a moment that you aren’t about to eat a spoonful of tomato gelatin.
It tastes like seafood sauce… or a Caesar/Bloody Mary. Sort of. It is a bit sweet and tangy like ketchup, but the Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, and ground cloves make it spicier. And with a tuna* or seafood salad in the center (see footnote), it actually kind of works. It’s still an odd mouth-feel. And there is a very good reason why tomato-flavored Jello isn’t for sale in grocery stores. Even so, I maintain if you close your eyes and think about the tomato aspic as a sauce, it isn’t so bad.
Anyway, this was surprisingly successful. It was one of those times when taking a chance on something intimidating paid off. But I can share pictures of this time!
Tangy Tomato Aspic
1 pkg (6 oz.) lemon flavored gelatin
2 ½ cups boiling water
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
3 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. onion juice
A dash each of Tabasco, pepper, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper
Dissolve gelatin in water. Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into 10 to 12 individual molds or a 6-cup ring mold. Chill until firm. Serve on greens with mayonnaise*. 8 to 10 servings.
*The recipe book suggests using one of several mayonnaise-based salads found on another page. I chose the tuna salad simply because I had a tin of tuna in the cupboard.
This recipe comes from Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cook Book, published in 1962.
A version of this post originally appeared in Jen R. L. Disarray’s blog, Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Eating This. Crossposted with permission.