Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for. Get the coffee going early, ease into a day of cooking and and turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love tradition. Puttering all day in the kitchen preparing to delight everyone with a feast to come is a joy for me.
My family had a strict tradition with our Thanksgiving menu and woe to you if wanted to mess with it. You risked excommunication from the family. The tradition was roast turkey with dressing and gravy, mashed potatoes, green vegetable (yes, the ever present green bean casserole), creamed pearl onions and cranberry “salad”, really a cranberry sauce or relish. Whatever you want to call it.
Mom & Aunt Rose’s Cranberry Salad
Although I have fooled around with my Thanksgiving menu a bit over the years, it’s still a close variation to what my mom and my Aunt Rose used to do. I’ve long passed on doing green bean casserole but I always make the cranberry salad.
Digging through my mom’s old metal recipe box I came across the original recipe card. It was from my Aunt Rose. She called it Cranberry Relish. There are no directions, just a simple, short list of ingredients and a note to top with whipped cream.
No Cooking Involved
The best part about this salad or relish is that there is no cooking involved. Just draining and mixing. Even a person with no cooking skills can do this one! It’s simply whole berry cranberry sauce, oranges, pineapple and walnuts. Mom always used fresh oranges. I often use canned Mandarins. She always topped it with freshly whipped cream flavored with a
little sugar and vanilla (Chantilly Cream). I usually leave off the whipped cream (lower fat and calories), but you choose. Serve it in a glass or crystal bowl. The jewel-like colors are beautiful on the table.
If you are looking for something fresh and easy, I hope you’ll try this family tradition from my home to yours. I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. Please let me know how you like it. If you are not big on turkey, it goes great with roast pork, ham and roast chicken.
One last note – save the juice that drains from the fruit. It tastes wonderful mixed with a little ginger ale or club soda for the kids. That was a treat I always looked forward. These days I’d rather mix it with Champagne or sparkling white wine for a sort of Thanksgiving Kir Royale.
No cooking makes this simple enough for anyone to make. Just drain, mix and embellish if you desire. It never fails to delight. Thanks to my Mom and Aunt Rose.
- 2-16 oz. cans Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
- 1-20 oz. can pineapple chunks in water (not syrup), pieces cut in half
- 2-3 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut in half (or use a small can of mandarin oranges in water, drained)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (toast them if you’d like for more flavor)
- 3/4 cup sweetened whipped cream or Healthy Top, optional
- Set a large strainer or colander into a deep bowl. Pour cranberries, pineapple and mandarin oranges (if using canned) into the strainer and drain for three to four hours, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
- Add chopped walnuts and orange segments (if using fresh), and gently mix to combine.
- Transfer to a glass or crystal bowl to show off the pretty color of the salad.
- Spoon or pipe whipped cream on top of the salad around the edges (if using)
- The salad will hold in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 days so you can make it ahead. Don’t do the whipped cream garnish until serving time (if using). Serve chilled or more towards room temperature if you prefer.
- * Note – Using a hand mixer or an immersion blender with whisk attachment, beat cold heavy cream with a 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1-2 teaspoons sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop mounds of the whipped cream around the edge of the cranberry salad. Mom had to have whipped cream on top. I skip it.