Our Weird Thanksgiving Staple

Do you have a Thanksgiving recipe that is sacrosanct, one that your family will not let you waver from, or — perish the thought — omit from the menu? In my family it’s a festive jello mold that is the heralded star of the show.

“Jello mold?” You ask with a raised eyebrow. That ghastly relic of which surely no one on the Food Network would dare speak? A hideous affront to gourmands of all persuasions? The slut of 50’s cuisine, if you will — indiscriminate, always available, and dolled up with mini marshmallows, canned peaches or Maraschino cherries, whispering, “Take me, I’m easy.”

But wait. Our Thanksgiving favorite deserves some respect. Made with cherry jello and studded with fresh cranberries, chopped walnuts and celery, it can be made way in advance and forgotten about until the turkey is being carved. With just the right balance of sweet, tart, and crunchy, it is a perfect accompaniment to the meal. I usually double the recipe to serve 12-14.

I don’t know what age I was when my mother first made this dish. But I can totally imagine my gastronomical rapture upon tasting the first forkful. Henceforth known as Leenzil’s Thanksgiving Salad, it has been on my family’s table ever since.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Weird Thanksgiving Staple
My mother submitted Leenzil’s Thanksgiving Salad to our synagogue’s cookbook under my name years ago. This is a photo of that page.

Oh, and the Leenzil part? That was my dad’s nickname for me.

Happy Thanksgiving, and bon appetit!

This post was originally featured on Helene’s blog, Books Is Wonderful. Featured image via

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