So stunningly festive with its dazzling colors and so perfectly seasonal, this easy-as-pie side dish is one that complements any meal the way any relish does. It looks gorgeous on the buffet table and always makes a splash when it arrives at a potluck.
The best part is –you don’t have to cook it! Just chop, mix, and serve. The dish was created for two reasons: first, it’s that simple prep that’s so appreciated during the frenzied holiday season when busy households are scurrying to squeeze in work, shopping, cooking, and holiday party schedules. The second is that it stokes a sweet memory.
While the medley of fruits seems like enough to bring sweetness to the palate, they are not sweet enough to overcome the sour statement of fresh cranberries, leaving the dish begging for extra sweetening.
I’ve used sugar to compensate for the mouth-puckering tart cranberries, but during this season I’ll also be experimenting with maple syrup, date syrup, and a homemade date puree in place of the sugar. Another thought that seems very appealing is a puree of Hachiya persimmons to replace the sugar. This is one of the delicious recipes in my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook.
Toward the end of the holiday season, while cranberries are still available, I buy several bags and freeze them so I can make cranberry dishes throughout the winter season. They keep quite well in the freezer for up to 1 year.
When the holidays are over and cranberries and persimmons have disappeared from the produce bins, I turn to apples, pears, and tangerines in their place. They work perfectly and provide us with a pleasant variation.
This dish brings on a delicious little touch of nostalgia for me. I remember coming to my grandmother’s house for the Jewish holidays. When it was time to eat, she always brought a fruit-sweetened relish of some sort to the table along with the main course. Hers was much simpler, with fewer ingredients, and it was not necessarily as colorful. But etched in my mind is the sweet memory of that little touch of fruity delight that was so welcome and so appealing.
I hope this dish brings sweet delights to your table as it does mine.
CRANBERRY AND WINTER FRUIT RELISH
Yield: 5 to 6 servings
1 Bosc pear, diced
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
8 pitted dates, diced
5 tablespoons organic sugar
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 sprigs fresh mint, for garnish
- Combine the persimmons, pear, cranberries, dates, sugar, jalapeno, vinegar, and garlic in a medium bowl and toss well to distribute the flavors and colors.
- Transfer the relish to a serving bowl and garnish with the mint if desired. Cover and refrigerate if prepared in advance.