Here are two seasonal recipes. One is a traditional, sweet cranberry sauce. The other is a tart relish with pears, ginger and a hint of rosemary for a non-traditional flavor twist. Which one meets your fancy?
What makes a good cranberry sauce? It's impossible to find consensus on that. Some like it sweet and simple and use a traditional recipe. So, before I get to the Cranberry Ginger Pear Relish recipe, I'll share a classic cranberry sauce recipe. It's good and super simple--probably a lot like the recipe on the bag of fresh cranberries you find at the grocery store. This is almost as easy as opening a can, and it's so much better! I always make a batch of this for anyone at our Thanksgiving or Christmas table who doesn't like to mess with tradition:
But, me? I like more of a cranberry relish that is tart, crunchy, and with a few more flavors added in. Most cranberry relishes are left completely raw, but I prefer to cook mine just a little bit to meld the flavors and bring out the colorful juices of the berries. But not too much or there's no crunch left.
So, for those of you who don't mind messing with tradition a bit, here's my Cranberry Ginger Pear Relish. Of course, it's most commonly eaten with turkey, but it's also good with cheese and crackers as shown in my post Make An Easy Autumn Wreath Cheese Platter.
I combine the traditional ingredients with crystallized ginger and a hint of rosemary to give it a flavorful twist. This tart relish can be easily sweetened more to satisfy individual tastes. It can all be combined in the food processor--fast and easy.
I also have a variation at the bottom of this post for adapting this to a more traditional consistency and sweetness.
By the way, cranberries are really good for you.
DID YOU KNOW? Cranberries are considered to be one of the top foods with proven health benefits. They are full of antioxidants and can cut bad cholesterol and help fight infections, stomach cancer, and plaque on teeth. Yay for cranberries!
On to the recipe . . .
Step-By-Step photos for making Cranberry Ginger Pear Relish:
Assemble these ingredients: fresh cranberries, crystallized ginger, fresh rosemary, pears, an orange, honey, salt, and canola oil. Chopped pecans are optional and not pictured.
Add the cranberries and roughly chopped pears to the food processor bowl.
Use a micro-plane to zest an orange. Then cut the orange in half.
Chop the fresh rosemary leaves. Add the orange zest, juice from the orange halves, rosemary, crystallized ginger, oil, salt, and honey to the food processor bowl.
Pulse it until everything is evenly chopped.
Put the relish in a microwave safe bowl. Zap it at full power for 3 minutes, stopping and stirring after each minute. This brings out the colorful juices of the cranberries and helps to meld the flavors. Leave it out for 30 minutes before refrigerating. Put it in the fridge for up to a week. Or, you can freeze it in smaller portions. I make a full batch before Thanksgiving and freeze some to use for Christmas.
I like to add pecans to mine, but that's optional. Look at the beautiful color! And, it tastes delicious, too.
Variation: To make this more of the consistency and sweetness of traditional cranberry sauce, omit the oil. After chopping the ingredients in the food processor, put them in a sauce pan on the stove; add 1/2 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate or freeze.
Which of these recipes meets your fancy? A sweet traditional cranberry sauce, or a tart relish with some added flavors and crunch? No right or wrong answer to that. I'm just curious which way your tastes swing on this.
2 medium pears, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/3 cup crystallized ginger
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
zest from 1 orange
juice from 1 orange (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
Add all ingredients except pecans to food processor bowl. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into microwave safe bowl. Microwave at full power for 3 minutes, stopping and stirring after each minute. (Microwaving a short time releases the juices and color and melds the flavors.) Stir in nuts, if desired. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made several days before serving. Freezes well.
Variation: To make this more the consistency and sweetness of traditional cranberry sauce, omit the oil. After chopping the ingredients in the food processor, put them in a sauce pan on the stove; add 1/2 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate or freeze.
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