Cranberries add a festive and refreshing touch to holiday meals. The tart flavor of cranberry sauce helps tone down the rich flavors of a large holiday turkey meal. Doesn’t cut the calories of the meal you just ate, but it does cleanse the palate. Last weekend company was visiting — they helped with the cooking. My niece and I created wonderful fresh fruit compote with cranberries and foods on my kitchen counter. We served the dish at almost all meals and discovered it was a satisfying substitute for high-calorie desserts. Guess we found a way to save on calories, after all.
Especially at traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, tart cranberry relish is a great complement to roast turkey. With fresh cranberries are available, why used canned cranberry sauce or relish? This year, I wanted to make fresh cranberry relish. But we got side-tracked and ended up instead making a tasty fruit salad. It worked out; the compote was very easy to prepare and the result was a refreshing and nutritious low calorie compote. It was just what we needed to finish a meal without alot of rich desserts — in an attempt to keep to a healthy holiday season.
In addition to cranberries, we used several food ingredients which are local to Louisiana — satsumas, pecans and mint. What is a satsuma? The satsuma is a citrus fruit with sweet flavor, balancing the tart cranberries. It is a type of seedless mandarin orange which originated in China hundreds of years ago. The trees were brought to the Southern states in 1878 from Japan and are now are grown throughout Louisiana and the South.
Satsumas are slightly more hardy than other citrus such as oranges and lemons and satsumas will survive occasional freezes of our climate. The fruit ripens in the fall and winter; you can drive down streets with yards containing trees full of the fruit. Satsumas are small, sweet, easy-to-peel and seedless, thus good to use in salads. If satsumas are unavailable, then tangerines, clementines, blood oranges or really any small orange can be substituted — just seed them.
For our fruit compote, we chopped the cranberries in a food processor in 2 batches — some coarsely and some we left just barely chopped. Then we added sugar, orange juice and Praline Liqueur to make a “saucy” sauce with a little “zip.” We let this set at room temperature while preparing the rest of the concoction.
I had a Pink Lady apple — a crisp, tart apple and we chopped this. We found a banana sitting on the counter — why not add it, too. I toasted Louisiana pecans for the compote and added fresh mint from my garden.
Mint is an easy herb to grow in a Louisiana garden — once it takes root, it really becomes a “weed” and quickly spreads over the entire garden. Mint likes cool weather and the plants are just starting to sprout up again in my garden after the hot summer. It is nice just to walk outside and pinch a few leaves for a recipe.
The final step was to combine all the chopped fruit, mint and pecans with the chopped cranberries. This is an easy fruit concoction to prepare. It makes a very large salad that we used at several meals, including breakfast. I brought another batch to a covered dish meal at work and to Thanksgiving dinner with relatives. It was a different recipe from other foods at the meals; and folks enjoyed it.
We’re trying to back off some of those rich desserts over the holidays. This Cranberry Fruit Compote is one way to accomplish that. Enjoy!
Fresh Cranberry Fruit Compote
- 12 oz bag fresh cranberries (reserve a few for garnish)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 Tbsp Praline Liqueur (optional) or Grand Marnier Liqueur
- 2 Pink Lady apples
- 3 small satsuma oranges, sectioned (or blood oranges, tangerines, clementines)
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup loosely packed whole fresh mint leaves
Method and Steps:
- Sort and rinse the cranberries, removing any spoiled ones. Place half the bag of cranberries in food processor bowl. Pulse several times until coarsely chopped. Remove to medium sized non-metallic bowl. Place second half of cranberries in food processor (save a few whole cranberries for garnish). Pulse once or twice to chop in large pieces.
- Add sugar, orange juice and Praline liqueur (optional) to chopped cranberries and stir to combine. Set at room temperature from 1/2 to 1 hour.
- Place one apple in food processor bowl. Pulse to chop coarsely. Add to cranberries. (This step can be omitted if desired — just chop in chunks along with second apple.)
- Dice second apple in chunks, peel and section oranges, removing any seeds and pith. After 1/2 to 1 hour; add to chopped cranberries and apple.
- Toast chopped pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to brown. Remove from oven and immediately remove from baking sheet. Cool to room temperature, add to compote.
- When ready to serve, slice banana, chop mint and add to compote.
- Garnish with reserved whole cranberries.