Cranberries have been part of the American diet for a long time. Early immigrants learned about them from the native, indigenous tribes in New England where they became synonymous with late Autumn and, of course, Thanksgiving. While various health benefits have been touted for years, such as the cranberry’s unique ability to prevent UTI’s, only recently has the true super-food quality of the berry become evident. The anti-oxidant properties of the cranberry surpass even the heralded pomegranate.
Often, we are uninspired when working with cranberries. Thanksgiving dinners have been adorned with the same cranberry-orange relish or the compulsory cranberry jello mold for a hundred years, usually made with large doses of refined sugar to counteract the tartness.
While cooking at my restaurant, I was inspired by the local organic cranberries at the Royal Oak Farmers Market and used them in savory dishes to counter balance the sweet flavors of squash or corn. In my cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, there is a recipe for Quinoa-Corn Arepas with a Chocolate-Cherry Salsa. Recently, I adapted the salsa recipe by replacing the cherries with cranberries, making a new and exciting cranberry dish for the Thanksgiving table.