Two cranberry relishes always graced our holiday table. One was raw, the other cooked. Making them was as much part of the holidays as eating them.
The first, the classic raw relish of cranberries ground up with an orange and sugar, you probably know. Seeking ways to keep Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner traditional but with a twist brought to mind a cranberry salsa recipe I had seen. My version is now a family tradition. In it, lime zest and juice replace the orange of the usual raw relish, while onion and a jalapeño add their kinds of heat and cilantro brings a fresh top note. I also add raw apple. Its sweetness means remarkably little sugar is needed to offset the tartness of the cranberries. The result is a brilliant salsa that is savory, sassy and comfortably hot.
For the cooked cranberry condiment, I include dried cherries and apple cider that have natural sweetness. I also add ground cinnamon and a generous pinch of ground cloves. Brown sugar brings more interesting flavor than white. Cooked together just until the cranberries pop, about 15 minutes, they give this very chunky sauce flavors that meld and get more complex after a day or two. You can also press the sauce into a bowl or other container and unmold it when ready to serve.
Too good to enjoy just during the holidays, I find myself serving these cranberry accompaniments throughout the year.
Cranberry Apple Salsa (pictured)
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries, or frozen, unsweetened
1/2 medium Fuji apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 strips (1-inch x 1/2-inch) lime zest, coarsely chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, without seeds, chopped
3 Tbsp. turbinado/raw sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
In food processor, pulse cranberries just until coarsely chopped. Add apple, onion, lime zest, jalapeño, sugar and lime juice. Pulse (quick pulses) until salsa is still slightly chunky, about 15-20 times.
Add cilantro and pulse until it is chopped but not mushy, about 10 times, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Season with a bit of salt, just to lift flavors.
Let salsa sit 20 minutes for flavors to marry. Serve same day.
Makes 8 (1/4 cup) servings
Per serving: 36 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 9 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 1.5 g dietary fiber, 2 mg sodium
Spiced Cranberry Sauce (not pictured)
1/2 cup dried, sweetened cherries
1/2 cup apple cider
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries or frozen, unsweetened if fresh not available
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
In small bowl, soak cherries in cider for 30 to 60 minutes.
In heavy, large saucepan, combine cranberries, cherries with soaking liquid, sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, until cranberries pop and soften, but are not mushy, about 15 minutes. If using frozen cranberries, berries may not pop but they will soften; do not let them collapse completely.
Spoon hot sauce into decorative serving bowl or other container and cool to room temperature.
Cover and refrigerate cooled sauce for 8 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce keeps up to 3 days, tightly covered in refrigerator.
Makes scant 2 cups, 8 servings (1/4 cup per serving).
Per serving: 74 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 19 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium