Relish the Relish Tray

No holiday meal on Granny’s table was complete without a relish tray. Picture a divided crystal dish full of bite-sized, savory treats that compliment the main meal. It was usually filled with things we didn’t get very often. After all, there was no fancy-shmancy olive bar at Citronelle’s Piggly Wiggly. That’s why I always thought the relish tray was a big treat and looked forward to it. Still do.

There are a couple of easy recipes included below, but the relish tray is mainly a dish that is accomplished by just opening cans and jars and putting things on a plate in some sort of visually pleasing way. It’s ideal for a busy holiday season because it’s so so easy and festive.

I’m already planning my Thanksgiving dinner menu and gathering my relish tray items. As you make your shopping list, here are some things Granny always served that you might add to your relish tray this year.

  • Black olives (Here’s a secret about me: When I get the good old canned kind, I still like to put them on the ends of my fingers and eat them off.)
  • Green olives — Granny always had the ones stuffed with pimentos, but now you can get olives stuffed with feta cheese, almonds, and jalapeños.
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Pickled okra
  • Sweet gherkins or cornichons or any other type of homemade pickle
  • Celery stuffed with cream cheese with pecans (recipe below) and/or pimento cheese (also below) (Use the leaves from the celery as garnish to make the plate look festive.)

These fillings  can also be used to make finger sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres for every kind of party from a bridal shower to the SEC Championship. For a dainty look, cut off the crusts and slice the sandwiches into little triangles or rectangles. Or you can make it fancy by putting the fillings on top of crackers or toasted baguette pieces and garnishing with a pecan or olive slice.

Celery with Cream Cheese and Pecan Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise (add more if needed)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • I bunch of celery

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 3 ingredients together, adding more mayonnaise if you need it to make the mixture workable.
  2. Divide the celery into stalks and wash and dry it. Save the tough outer stalks for a soup or dressing or something like that. Use the tender inside stalks for your relish tray.
  3. Cut each stalk into pieces about 2 inches long. For the tiniest inside stalks, keep them whole and leave the greens attached.
  4. Mound the filling in the celery.

Note: You can adjust the proportions easily to make a smaller or larger amount depending on what you need. You can also substitute sliced pimento-stuffed green olives for the pecans.

Celery Stuffed with Pimento Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (add more if needed)
  • 1 7 oz. jar pimentos, drained
  • A shake or 2 of Worcestershire sauce
  • A shake of cayenne pepper or hot sauce
  • 1 bunch celery

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together adding more or less mayo as needed to make it come together. I don’t like mine too gloppy with mayonnaise.
  2. Divide the celery into stalks and wash and dry it. Save the tough outer stalks for a soup or dressing or something like that. Use the tender inside stalks for your relish tray.
  3. Cut each stalk into pieces about 2 inches long. For the tiniest inside stalks, keep them whole and leave the greens attached.
  4. Mound the filling in the celery.

Note: You can adjust the proportions easily to make a smaller or larger amount depending on what you need.