Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Cranberry Pomegranate Sweet Relish
So apparently Thanksgiving is coming. It's one of my favorite holidays. Partly because of the food (of course). Partly because it's a time to get together with family and/or friends. Partly because we certainly need a holiday to celebrate thanks. And partly--perhaps largely--because in its way it's a simpler sort of holiday. Since it's just a month away from Christmas businesses and advertisers tend to leave it alone and place their focus on the big Yuletide moneymaker. And although we do have to reserve a little fear those crazed Pinterest posters who would have you gluing together acorns in order to make a basket in order to put your centerpiece of pears and squashes (preferably dipped in crystalized sugars of course). But even those ideas often get bumped out by the next big craft for a homemade Christmas stocking. So, while Christmas commandeering Thanksgiving is one of the frustrating things about this season, it can ironically be one of of the blessings as well. On Thanksgiving you don't have to give a gift; gifts will come next month. On Thanksgiving you can go simple with your decorations--we can go all crazy soon enough. On Thanksgiving you can sleep in and then later when it's time to eat pie, you won't have already maxed out on chocolate Santas (just turkey and stuffing).
Still--in our modern and apparently somewhat luxurious American lives--we sometimes find it hard to resist going big. Each year has to be better (by which I mean more fabulous and intense) than the last. Each child has to (by which we sometimes mean 'deserves to') have this holiday permanently imprinted on his or her tiny brain as yet another epic event of childhood holiday lore.
Maybe I'm just getting old, but the last couple of years, I've felt a little over it. That's not always a good thing for a food blog, but it might be a good thing for our lives. I want to make delicious food, but I want to keep it simple. On the years I host Thanksgiving you won't find any oxtail soups on our table (or any soups at all; there's enough food already don't you think). You won't find cake and pie and pudding. And you certainly won't find nuts glued together into a basket. What I hope you'll find is some of the most basic, traditional recipes done very very well.
Today's recipe is one for cranberries. It allows you to keep it simple. There's no cooking. You can prep it in about ten minutes total. Also, you can totally make this way ahead (like--you could make it today and it would still be good on Thanksgiving--if you can keep from eating it, that is). It has several healthy players in its ingredient list.
Yet in its way, it allows you to go big too. It's beautiful--the fruits slightly indulgent, exotic, and glittering like little Thanksgiving gemstones on your table (who needs a nut basket right?). It's delicious--so so so delicious--I could eat it for every meal. It combines tart and sweet beautifully (with sweet ultimately winning out). It is a side dish that will seem wonderfully luxuriant.
Also, although cranberries play a big role, it doesn't taste cranberry-y (totally a word, right?). My husband hates cranberries; he's not a big fan of pomegranates either, but he--much to his surprise--liked this. So it's a good recipe for pleasing cranberry lovers and those who don't--all in the same dish.
Note: Though called a relish, I eat it like a fruit salad--just spooned into a bowl. However, with some cream cheese and crackers on the side, it could easily be served as an hors d'oeuvres and serve a more sweet relish-y role.
I need to thank my friend Vanessa for introducing it to me and letting me inhale it at her house. And then giving me the recipe--a family recipe from her husband's side (thank you Stanfills). You know you've married well when you can inherit recipes like this.
So make it. Enjoy the indulgence. And the simplicity.
Cranberry Pomegranate Sweet Relish
a Stanfill family recipe
Makes a big bowl full
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: $6.40 (This is only about $.50/serving, but if you wish to cheapen it, cut out the raspberries--I almost forgot them and when I tasted this I still loved it without them)
(holiday sale prices) pomegranate: 1.00, cranberries: 1.00, apples: 1.00, oranges: .25, raspberries: 3.00, sugar: .15
Tip: This video is the best way I've found for removing pomegranates. (Parent warning: He uses the 'h' word once.) You cut along the equator, hold the half pomegranate seed-side down in your hand over a bowl. Then you whack it with a wooden spoon like it's getting the spanking of its life. The seeds will fall into your hand and the bowl and it will take you only about 1 minute. I thought the first time I tried it that I would surely whack my hand, but I've done it a bunch of times now and still haven't. It's completely awesome. Try it.
Note on sugar: This is a very sweet relish. I bet you can reduce the sugar if you wish. I bet you could take it down to 1/2 cup, although you'd be getting a much tarter finished product. I intend to try this next time. That way I really can justify eating this for every meal, right?
Note on fruits: You can leave out the oranges or the raspberries (but not both). Everything else I consider a must.
2 tart apples, fairly large (I recommend Granny Smith)--cored
1 10-oz bag cranberries
1 pomegranate (see tip)--seeds
1-2 oranges--peeled (I used one; they do add some juice to this so be aware of that)
1 10-oz bag raspberries--thawed and drained
1 C sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Put apples in food processor and pulse for a couple seconds to break them up into big pieces. Add cranberries to food processor. Pulse until you've got smallish, relish-looking chunks. Add the orange and pulse a couple times.
Put in bowl. Add pomegranate seeds, raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Mix to combine.
Let sit for several hours (or preferably overnight).
Eat. I just eat this out of a bowl, but I bet it would be incredible with plain Greek yogurt.