Cranberry Salad: not just for thanksgiving anymore

IMG_1581Is it possible that I have not yet written about this salad? Clearly I have no time to reflect on it because from early October until the bogs are bare, my time is spent making and eating it. Cranberry salad is to winter what the fig salad is to late summer. I changed my blog background to feature this dish because it is an essential part of my winter cooking.

This refreshing concoction is the only item I make that my entire household willingly eats at every meal (peanut butter cookies do not count). If my husband doesn’t actually like it then he’s been putting on a brave face for 14 years (he has been putting on a brave face for the aforementioned number of years but not, I think, in regard to this salad). I gorged myself on this when I was pregnant with my first daughter (It formed a key component of my 5000 calorie a day gestation diet. I gained 40 pounds and I can show you how to do it too. Why don’t I have a book deal and a celebrity following?!?)

Winter fruits are so pretty together, and I load this up with pomegranate pips so it looks bejeweled. My mother says that this recipe is the descendant of a relish she served every Thanksgiving. It soon became clear that none of us wanted a relish portion, we wanted a salad portion (I come from salad people). Obviously, once a year was insufficient so, come October 1st, I start fixing it twice a week.

It is luscious with a variety of oranges. I like Cara Caras but little mandarins, tangerines, navels – all good. Have someone in the produce department help you find a decent pineapple if you don’t feel up to the task. Maui golds are the best I have eaten. No offense, Costa Rica but your pineapple farming is lackluster.

Cranberry Salad

1 pineapple
2 or so oranges depending on how many you have and how many you want
1 apple (red varieties looks best in this but don’t always taste best)
1 package of cranberries (the standard Ocean Spray plastic bag)
1 Tablespoon of honey, or so
1 pomegranate

It’s me, marycake! Just kidding!

Though this is simple to make, skill-wise, it can be time consuming at first, so settle in.  Not all of you have tackled a pineapple by yourselves because you usually have the servants do it, I get that.  But when the maid has the day off and you crave a salad of rubies and garnets, then you are going to have to roll up your sleeves.  Sharpen a knife and watch this helpful “How To: skin a pineapple” video: but don’t get waylaid by “How to Skin a Bear.” Yikes.

Then it’s a matter of dicing the oranges and apples and whirring the cranberries in a Cuisinart.  You can chop them by hand but as Nigella Lawson  (author of nine books, including How to Be a Domestic Goddess) says about such fiddly ventures, you will risk a nervous breakdown. While they are being chopped (and this takes a matter of seconds so don’t turn it into cranberry puree) you can add the honey.  I find that sometimes I have to heat the honey a bit to soften it up.  I don’t use much, but then I err on the tart side.  Before I had my own Cuisinart I used a blender to make this.  If you need to do that, first of all:  bless you.  Secondly, process them in small batches.

As for the forbidden fruit, a 22-second video:–o and voila! This is how I divest a pom of its pips, but please know this will take longer in real life than it does for the nice lady in the demo.  Keep whacking the fruit with a wooden spoon and rotating it.  I learned this trick from Nigella, who told me (well, she told everyone who was on their couch watching her show, but I felt that we were having an intimate chat) that it would change my life.  Oh, it has.

Enjoy this as a tonic against the relentless array of Halloween candy (I am mostly immune but I will half-nelson a trick-or-treater for their candy corn) which, on the first day of November, will morph seamlessly into a glut of Christmas treats.


P.S.  I just read something about a cranberry relish with cauliflower, mint and anchovy bread crumbs.  Again, I rely on fair Nigella’s kitchen wisdom:  “The impulse to be interesting is, perhaps, the most destructive one in cooking.”  The Goddess speaks.