Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cranberry & lime salsa

Thanksgiving is exactly 2 weeks from today.  Two weeks!  Are you ready for this? (Did anyone else immediately think of Jock Jams?)

I think it's high time to share some turkey day recipes.  The bird is the easy and obvious part of the menu; strangely enough, it seems like the sides are the most anticipated and debated pieces of the puzzle.

Last year, I kicked off a new series of posts called Everything But the Turkey, which featured 3 new delicious side dishes that would be welcome at any Thanksgiving table.  (If you missed it, be sure to check out these links for sweet potato biscuits, warm farro salad with butternut squash, cranberries, spinach & hazelnuts, and sweet potato pie.  Warning: I loved each one so much that, even a year later, I truly can't pick a favorite.  I want them all!

Since I had so much fun playing with that theme last year, I decided to bring it back for Round 2 this Thanksgiving.  This is the first of three new recipes.

To say I look forward to side dishes the most on turkey day would be the understatement of the year.  I enjoy the turkey more the day after Thanksgiving.  And, since there is always a surplus of it, I devote the majority of my attention (and stomach space) to the supporting cast: stuffing, homemade green bean casserole, my mom's mashed potatoes, and our family's favorite corn pudding.  And rolls.  How on earth could I forget rolls and butter?

Like I said, sides are THE BEST.

And, you know, appetizers are pretty fantastic, too.  Our family likes to keep things light, so we don't stuff ourselves silly and have no room for the main meal, with things like cheese balls and crab dip (Maryland tradition!).  Vegetables made an appearance long ago but were nixed after that year; they were deemed too filling because of all of that fiber.  Please don't judge us.

Vegetables may be so last season, but fruit is IN, and I can't wait to make this cranberry lime salsa again for this year's get together! 

Forget the wobbly, love-it-or-leave-it cranberry sauce that is the ultimate afterthought on the Thanksgiving table.  I can't tell you how many times we've eaten the big meal, only to have someone realize at the end of it that the cranberry sauce was missing.  Out of sight, out of mind, I say.  And just in time to make room in your brain (and stomach) for this ultra fresh cranberry and lime salsa.

Real tart cranberries are blended with lime juice, cilantro, sugar, onions, and jalapenos.  The resulting salsa is a little sweet, a little tart, and seriously addictive. 

Oh, and have I mentioned it's capital E-asy?  Just toss everything in a food processor or chopper, pulse a few times, and it's ready to go.  No heating, roasting, chopping, brining, or anything else that will use valuable energy or counter space.  Blend, scoop into a bowl, and enjoy!

You can even eliminate a step to make things more streamlined: "scoop into a bowl" is absolutely not necessary.  We may or may not have huddled over the bowl of the food chopper and devoured almost half of this salsa sans serving spoon armed with only pita chips and crackers before photos were captured. Yet we still had room for dinner.

Add this to your Thanksgiving Day party menu ASAP!  (Check back next week for two more delicious dishes!)

One year ago: Cashew Crunch Rice Krispie treats
Two years ago: Homemade instant hot chocolate mix
Three years ago: Caramel stuffed apple cider cookies
Four years ago: The best meatballs
Five years ago: Cherry almond cinnamon granola

Cranberry & Lime Salsa
-serves 6-8

A few notes: Feel free to use the quantities below as guidelines.  If you prefer hotter salsas, add the entire jalapeno; or omit it altogether.  As I've mentioned previously, I'm a spice wimp and could barely detect heat from 1/2 of a jalapeno, but kept it so since I was making it for a book club crowd who have varying tolerances for spicy foods.  Also, you can enjoy this immediately but I highly recommend letting it marinate overnight -- it tastes better the longer it sits!

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
3 green onions, chopped OR 1 teaspoon onion powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon

Combine ingredients in bowl of food processor.  Pulse until blended and desired consistency (depending on how chunky or smooth you like salsa).  Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 5 days.  Serve at room temperature with pita or tortilla chips, crackers, or toasted baguette slices.  Enjoy!

Additional serving suggestion: Try pairing with a log of softened goat cheese for a little tang along with the sweet salsa and salty cracker.

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