Cranberries with zip

I know I’m taking a risk here.  Many a Thanksgiving dinner guest insists that the only true cranberry sauce comes out of a can in a jiggly cylinder, ridges and all.  Even those who prefer homemade sauce expect a sweet dish.

But I say there’s just way too much sugar on the menu for Turkey Day.   Something bright and savory would be a much better counterpoint to the mild bird and all those carbs.

This year, I’m offering cranberry salsa as an alternative to the desserts masquerading as side dishes.

It’s a sassy, festive dish designed to perk up appetites overwhelmed by so many sweet offerings. Chopped ginger, chile, onions and red peppers bring lively flavor and subtle heat to the familiar fruit.  And there’s still a bit of sugar to take the edge off the berries’ tart bite.

Adding to its appeal, this dish comes together quickly in a food processor and tastes even better if it’s made a day ahead.

Obviously, switching this salsa for the usual sauce probably isn’t a good idea if your family clings to every tradition. But you might try putting it on the table, too, to shake things up a bit.

At the very least, try this salsa with leftovers.  Turkey sandwiches will never be the same.

Makes 4-5 cups½ cup red onion, roughly chopped
½ -1 small jalapeño chile, seeded, depending on your taste
½ cup red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 small unpeeled orange, cut into large chunks
3 cups (12 ounce bag) fresh cranberries, rinsed and sorted
3-4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
½ cup cilantro, torn
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, whirl together the onion, chile, bell pepper, ginger and orange until finely minced.  Add cranberries and sugar and pulse 5 or 6 times.  Add cilantro and pulse a couple of times to make a coarse salsa.  Transfer mixture to a medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until about half an hour before serving.

Aleta Watson



2 thoughts on “Cranberries with zip”

  1. ah ha – similar to the Chris Bedford recipe…you can add a little tequila to give it a boost too – hope you have a great Thanksgiving. I’ll be using this for our family gathering.

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