Too-Good-To-Be-True Veggie Relishes

On Fancy Plate with Greens Dena T Bray©
Root Vegetable Purees on Wood in Evening Light by Dena T Bray©

This year we are welcoming three of our son’s university friends to our Thanksgiving table. While I couldn’t be happier to have them join us, I find myself getting more anxious than usual about meal the preparations ahead. The young men are European and Canadian―this will be their first and perhaps only American Thanksgiving ever. I’ve been harboring thoughts that I have to create the perfect meal, one representative of what an American Thanksgiving is all about. I am putting the kind of pressure on myself that I abhor about the holidays. The pressure to be perfect and prepare an enormous meal that no one can consume comfortably is just not what I think it is all about. Rather, it’s about time together. It’s about opening our home to friends and family for laughter and relaxation. I remind myself of what I always tell others: Thanksgiving is not a performance. The most important ingredient of the meal is you. Create foods you enjoy and are happy to share. Bring joy to the process. Relax. Everything will taste better and everyone will enjoy themselves more if love is the key ingredient to everything on your menu.

Heeding my own advice, I created a set of simple and versatile dishes to add to our holiday fare―these Too-Good-To-Be-True Veggie Relishes. Three dips, based on humble root vegetables―rutabagas, carrots and beets―with flavors so intense, they seem too good to be true.

Rutabagas Overhead in White Bowl Dena T Bray©
Carrots Overhead Dena T Bray©
Beets Overhead in White Bowl Dena T Bray©

The relishes start out in similar ways but  have their own unique flavors and personalities. Each recipe begins with roasting the vegetables to bring out their natural sugars. The roasting process also softens the vegetables, making them ready to purée. All seasoned with a bit of freshly minced garlic sautéed in olive oil, to which I added a seasoning  to compliment the natural tastes of each of the vegetables―spicy harissa is added to the carrots, some red pepper flakes to the beets and Herbes de Provence to the rutabagas. These relishes are immensely versatile. Delicious on their own, they can also be served as a dip with chips, spread on crusty baguette slices or alongside your Thanksgiving turkey, roasted meats or seafood. Try them my favorite way―placed decoratively on a fancy serving plate with a heap of fresh winter greens at its center.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Watch for my next post in the first week of December.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.

Dena

Relishes with Microgreens by Dena T Bray

VEGGIE RELISHES

Yield: About 3 cups

Ingredients: 

For the Rutabaga Relish:

  • 1 lb. rutabaga root, stems removed, rinsed with excess dirt removed but not peeled
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • ½  cup crème fraiche, plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Beet Relish:

  • 1 lb. beet root, stems removed, rinsed with excess dirt removed, but not peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • ½  cup apple cider
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Carrot Relish:

  • 1 lb. carrots, stems removed, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • ½  cup oranges juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving, your choice:

  • Corn, potato or pita chips
  • Baguette slices
  • Micro-greens

Instructions:

To roast the vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the rutabagas on one sheet pan, the carrots on one and the beets on another. Put the vegetables in the oven and roast until they are tender. Roasting times will vary according to the size and freshness of your vegetables, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. The vegetables are done when they are fork tender.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

To make the Rutabaga Relish:

  1. Peel the roasted rutabaga and discard the skin. Chop into large pieces and place in a food processor.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter or olive oil. Add the garlic and Herbes de Provence and cook until the garlic is translucent and the herbes are fragrant, about one minute. Pour over the rutabagas in the food processor. Pulse until the rutabaga is finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in  the crème fraiche, yogurt or buttermilk.
  3. Purée until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Set aside.

To make the Beet Relish:

  1. Peel the roasted beets and discard the skin. Chop into large pieces and place in a food processor.
  2. In a small pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is translucent and the red pepper flakes fragrant, about one minute. Pour over the beets in the food processor. Pulse until the beets are finely chopped. With the motor running, add the honey or maple syrup and the apple cider.
  3. Purée until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Set aside.

To make the Carrot Relish:

  1. Chop the roasted carrots into large pieces and place in a food processor. In a small pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and harissa and cook until the garlic is translucent and the harissa is fragrant, about one minute.  Pour over the carrots in the food processor. Pulse until the carrots are finely chopped. With the motor running, add the orange juice.
  2. Purée until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Set aside.

To serve as a dip:

  1. Put the relishes in decorative serving bowls along with bowls of chips or baguette slices.

To serve as a salad:

  1. Place a mound of micro-greens in the center of 4 salad plates. Put a scoop of each of the relishes decoratively around the greens. Accompany with baguette slices.
  2. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. The amounts for the ingredients for the relishes are approximate. Add a bit more or less spice as suits your taste. Add a bit more or less liquid depending on how smooth you would like your relish.
  2. Harissa is a ground chili paste. It comes ready in a tube or can. If none available, substitute red pepper flakes or cayenne or both.
  3. There is no need to wash the pan or food processor between making of each relish. Just wipe clean.
  4. If serving as part of your Thanksgiving Dinner, serve as an appetizer or as  relishes for the turkey.
  5. If serving as dips, consider accompanying with a platter of feta cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
  6. If serving as a salad, consider tossing a bit of cooked rice, pasta or quinoa with the micro-greens and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  7. The relishes can be made separately in any amount you like. They should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and will last a couple of days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  8. These relishes are also great accompaniments to roasted meats and seafood.
  9. For a full meal, start with a bowl of Amalfi Coast Rich Lentil Soup and finish with Cranberry-Cornmeal Jewel Cake.

Microgreens on Wood Dena T Bray©
Beets in White Bowl Dena T Bray©