Cranberry Salsa? Why not?

Instead of cranberry relish, why not cranberry salsa? Every Thanksgiving, my grandmother made cranberry/orange relish. You know, the recipe from the back of the bag of cranberries? It looked beautiful in her tall, cut-glass compote and added the perfect amount of tartness to enhance the savory turkey and cornbread dressing.

My family doesn’t like gravy, so cranberry relish is what we continue to use to add that little somethin-somethin to our Thanksgiving plates. I serve it in a compote similar to my grandmother’s. But this year, I’m making a change.

cranberry salsa

I found a recipe for cranberry salsa when I was filing last week. I don’t remember printing it out, but there it was on my desk. When my sister and I started planning the Thanksgiving menu, I picked it up and read it. It’s served with tortilla chips so why not use it as an appetizer?

I like to have something for everyone to snack on in case I run long getting food on the table. Cranberry salsa seems like a perfect choice because the leftovers can be served with our meal in place of cranberry/orange relish.

Can the family weather a change in tradition without being grumpy? I’m pretty sure they can as long as the salsa tastes good. With that in mind, I made some this weekend to see.

Here’s what I combined:

2 jalapeño peppers

1 twelve-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, washed

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup minced green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice              

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

Remove stem and seeds from jalapeño peppers and finely chop. Set aside. Place cranberries in a food processor or food chopper and pulse until finely chopped. You want small pieces, not a smooth purée.

Place chopped cranberries in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir together. Add jalapeno peppers, green onion, cilantro, orange juice and lime juice. Stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve with tortilla chips.*

I served the salsa with scoop-shaped tortilla chips. Half of the guests are gluten-free so having an appetizer that paired well with corn chips worked great. We had plenty for dipping and serving with a meal, plus a little left for later. As far as doing double-duty as an appetizer and meal accoutrement, we will have plenty.

The taste profile of this salsa relies primarily on the sour, bitter flavor of the cranberries tempered by sugar. In this sense, it’s not that different from my grandmother’s relish. It also contains some similar orange notes although those are less prominent. The addition of green onion, jalapeno, and cilantro will not detract from my turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, or black-eyed peas. From the taste profile perspective, I can’t see a problem substituting salsa for relish.

I love it when a dish can do double-duty! And I really don’t see any downside of using this salsa in place of cranberry/orange relish.

So, the decision is made! This year, our cranberries will be presented in the form of salsa! I mean, really, why not?

Happy Thanksgiving!

*The recipe I found online for this was written by Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell.