Thanksgiving and cranberry sauce are the proverbial food marriage on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s tradition! To leave it off the menu would have the family wondering if I was losing my marbles.

I have fond memories of my mom cooking fresh cranberries with sugar and cinnamon on the stove-top to get ready for the Thanksgiving feast. I followed in her tradition for many years. Then, thought it would be more fun to strike out with a few creative touches to the cranberry sauce .

Combining the cranberries with pears had great appeal and so did the addition of ginger. By the time I was finished playing, I had a super delicious and super easy version of cranberry sauce. It even looks more appealing than any of my past ventures. I was actually amazed at how quickly this recipe came together.

Yet, so many people shun fresh cranberries and turn to buying the Vegan Holidays highresstuff in the can. Honestly, canned cranberry sauce doesn’t hold a candle to this flavorful recipe that’s featured in the Thanksgiving section of my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook.

One of the features that make cranberry sauce such a holiday favorite is that it can be prepared up to a week ahead of the holiday. Sugar is quite the preservative and has been for eons. Just cover it and tuck it into the fridge–that is, after it cools and it will be ready when you need it. Prepare it several days in advance–it’s a great keeper.

If the sauce looks runny after cooking, remember that cranberries contain natural pectin that thickens when cooled and refrigerated.

This is a slightly chunky version of cranberry sauce. If you want it to be less chunky, cook it 10 to 15 minutes longer. You can even use an immersion blender if you want a smoother, less textured consistency.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 large firm pear, peeled, cored, and diced

1 cup organic sugar

3/4 cup water

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 slices fresh Fuju persimmon, for garnish

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the persimmon, in a 3-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Just as the mixture comes to a boil, immediately decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours to thicken.
  2. Before serving, artfully tuck 2 slices of persimmon into the compote so they stand upright.



 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 Vegan Holidays highresseason 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.


 Yield: 5 to 6 servings

2 Fuyu persimmons, dicedCranberry & Winter Fruit Relish

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

  1. Combine the persimmons, pear, cranberries, dates, sugar, jalapeno, vinegar, and garlic in a medium bowl and toss well to distribute the flavors and colors.
  1. Transfer the relish to a serving bowl and garnish with the mint if desired. Cover and refrigerate if prepared in advance.