The Color and Crunch the Table Needs

Posted November 6, 2018 6:09 p.m. EST

Cranberry-pomegranate relish in New York, Sept. 2018. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. Prop Stylist: Courtney de Wet. (Christopher Testani/The New York Times)

Of all the Thanksgiving leftovers that crowd the fridge, cranberry relish is the one I crave, even stashing the container in the back behind the mango pickle so I don’t have to share.

Sure, I adore a cold turkey sandwich slathered with mustard and mayo (or better: mayo and chile paste). And leftover stuffing crisped in a hot, greased pan until hash-brownlike and golden makes a fine morning-after brunch. But it’s the relish — a bracing scarlet mixture to spoon over my yogurt with honey and granola — that makes me giddy.

The original recipe came to our family through my Aunt Sandy, who clipped it out of a magazine now long gone. She made it with cranberries, whole oranges and walnuts. I’ve changed it up over the years, playing with the nuts and citrus. In my current favorite iteration, I substitute pomegranate for the orange, which deepens the vibrant glow of the berries. Pistachios stand in for the walnuts, speckling the mix with bits of green, and instead of sugar, I opt for honey.

It’s the most refreshing thing on our Thanksgiving table, a crimson pop of acidity and crunch that brightens the browns of the rest of the meal.

While I could easily make the relish anytime, I don’t. Its November-only appearance is part of the appeal.

— Cooking tips: Cranberry relish

You can make the cranberry mixture up to a day ahead. To preserve the relish’s bite, add the nuts and pomegranate seeds just before serving.

Fresh cranberries have a slightly better, firmer texture here. But frozen ones will work if that’s all you can get.

Don’t use frozen pomegranate seeds. They’ll be too mushy after thawing to add much in the way of texture.

Other nuts can be substituted for the pistachios. Almonds and pecans work especially well.

— Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 10 minutes

12 ounces fresh cranberries (3 cups)

1/3 cup honey, or to taste

3/4 cup chopped pistachios

3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Place cranberries and honey in a food processor. Pulse until chopped (but not too finely), then taste and stir in more honey if needed. At this point, the relish can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving. If the liquid separates, give it a stir.

2. Stir pistachios and pomegranate seeds into cranberry mixture and serve.