As you can imagine, “relish” is one of our favorite words. When were not talking about our magazine or website, were thinking about things we relish—farmers, new dishes, food festivals and kids in the kitchen.
There are, of course, other kinds of relishes. They are the savory condiments, often with whimsical-sounding names, that add zing to food — chowchows, ketchups, atjars, and salsas. Our refrigerator door is so stocked with them, there’s barely room for milk and orange juice. We’ve known for years that chutneys go with curries and kimchi is for Korean dishes, but those are only the tip of a very large iceberg.
To learn more, we went to Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys and Chowchows by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (Morrow, 1993). Schlesinger was introduced to what he calls “little dishes” in cooking school and has become a relish expert. According to him, relish with Mexican ingredients is salsa; with ingredients from Java, it’s sambal; and with Indian ingredients, it’s chutney. In the South, sweet and vinegary green tomato relish with apples, prunes and raisins might be called piccalilli or chow chow, the name for any relish with green tomatoes.
Relishes always remind us of a story about Brooke Astor, the New York socialite and philanthropist. Years ago, after visiting prefabricated homes being built with Astor Foundation money, Mrs. Astor sat down to a deli lunch in one of the model homes. She helped herself to a corned beef sandwich and saw little plastic containers of mustard and Russian dressing. “Look at the marvelous sauces,” she said.
Green Tomato Relish
A concoction of green tomatoes, apples, dried fruit, plenty of sugar (and molasses) and spices, this is like mincemeat (without the suet). It’s perfect with cheese and crackers or served with most any meat.
1/2 orange, quartered and seeded
1 pound raisins, divided
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 quarts green tomatoes, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 quarts chopped, cored apples
1/2 pound brown sugar
1/2 pound pitted prunes, halved
1/4 cup dark (not blackstrap) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Combine orange (including peel) with half the raisins and vinegar in a food processor. Process until a chunky, even-textured paste-purée is formed, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Transfer to a large, heavy, nonreactive pot with remaining raisins.
2. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often (due to the sugar, the mixture will want to stick), 30 to 40 minutes or until thick. The mixture should be dark and very well combined, but the apples and tomatoes, though soft, should still be distinguishable. Cool completely.
3. Spoon the cooled relish into zip-top plastic bags or jars and freeze. Makes about 4 quarts.
Recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon.
Per (1/2-cup) serving: 120 calories, 0g fat, 1g prot., 29g carbs., 2g fiber, 30mg sodium.
Look for Relish magazine, celebrating America’s love of food, each month in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin. For more Relish recipes and to sign up for our newsletters, log on to relish.com
Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn