I’ve learned over the years not to tamper with a family favorite recipe if I want our daughter to eat it. She wants her lasagna to taste like lasagna not spaghetti squash lasagna and her green bean casserole to be covered with those evil fried onions, not caramelized onions and bread crumbs. But I never realized that my beloved cranberry relish was also beloved by E until I decided to make this very different cranberry sauce instead. She hated it. Fortunately, my husband D and I loved it, as both an accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner and an alternative to tomato-based salsa.
Now, before you start slathering this cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving Loaf, you have to be prepared for it not to taste like the sweet cranberry sauce you’re used to. If your taste buds aren’t expecting them, the flavors of onion and garlic as well as the spiciness of the jalapeno can be off-putting. Also, this sauce is a lot less sweet than most cranberry sauces, which I think works well with the piquant flavors, but again, not so much if you’re expecting grandma’s cranberry sauce that contains only cranberries, sugar, and water.
Since I made a double batch of this sauce a couple of days before our Thanksgiving meal, D and I have had time (and leftovers) to experiment with it. Our favorite way to use it was on tacos with soy curls and grilled onions and peppers, where the sweet and spicy combination added a festive zing. D has had it spread on toast and bagels both with and without vegan cream cheese and reports that it makes a good, savory breakfast addition. And I liked it better on plain baked tofu, where it provided the primary flavor, than I did on No-Fu Loaf, which already had plenty of savory flavors of its own.
So if you’re up for an adventure, give this jalapeño cranberry sauce a try. But tell your taste buds that it’s cranberry salsa, not sauce.
Jalapeño-Orange Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounces cranberries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2-1 jalapeño pepper seeded and minced
- 2 large cloves garlic pressed
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon salt optional or to taste
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions white and green parts
Wash and pick over the cranberries, discarding any bad ones. Combine all ingredients except green onion in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the berries pop and burst. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the green onion. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.