Cranberries are typically not all that important in the grand picture of the Thanksgiving meal, but there was one Thanksgiving at my parents house when the cranberries got very dramatic. It was the first time I was bringing my husband (boyfriend at the time) to spend a holiday with my family. To say the least, my parents were not thrilled to have him that year. I wanted to him to feel welcome (which he did not) and so I was extremely insistent that we serve the cranberries the way his family did: left in the shape of the can and sliced.
My family has never done well with canned cranberries, and we don’t do well with things being “just so.” We all prefer a homemade cranberry salad or cranberry sauce to the can, but if we do have to buy the canned because of a shortage of fresh cranberries in rural Oklahoma, we usually mash it up so that it looks more like a sauce than a jello-mold.
My insistence that we serve the cranberry gel sliced in little circles seemed to confuse and frustrate my parents, which led to quite the argument between my mother and me… Now here we are, 9 years later. My husband and parents get along very well and we just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. The rest is just a fun anecdote!
If you like your cranberries to not look like the can, I am happy to share a couple variations on the Thanksgiving condiment of choice:
Cranberry Orange Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cup water
- 2 large leaves of kale
- 2 cup cranberries, fresh
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 TBS orange zest, grated
- 6 small oranges
- 1/4 cup mixed nuts
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/4 cup mint, fresh, chopped
Rinse 1 cup quinoa with water, then bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and return to boiling. Cover and reduce heat to low, continuing to cook until water is gone and quinoa is tender- about 12-15 minutes.
Wash and remove stems from kale, chop it finely. Place 2 cups cranberries, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp honey in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop ingredients.
When quinoa has cooked, transfer to a mixing bowl. Mix in chopped kale. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add in orange zest, oranges, mixed nuts, pomegranate arils and fresh mint.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cranberry Apple Chutney
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit, such as currants, golden raisins, and chopped prunes
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 12 ounces fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (3 1/2 cups)
Bring vinegar, sugar, onion, dried fruit, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add cranberries. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer gently until cranberries are tender and start to burst, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let stand until cooled. Refrigerate until chilled if desired.
Cranberry Apple Spritzer Mocktail
- Equal parts Cranberry Juice and Apple Cider (or juice)
- Lemon-lime Soda (like Sprite)
- Apples and Fresh Cranberries for garnish, optionalAdd equal parts of each juice to a pitcher, stir. Pour into glasses about 1/2 – 3/4 full. Top with soda.
Garnish with apples and cranberries
However you choose to serve your Thanksgiving cranberries, I hope that they are enjoyed by all, and I hope they are only as dramatic as you want them to be!