One of the weird things about being a food writer is how early you have to start thinking about holidays and special events. I’ve been brainstorming ideas for homemade food gifts for December since June, and already have a list of recipes to try before our big New Year’s Eve party. I’ve got several cookbooks slotted for review in the “must health-ify all of the things” rush that comes every January, and several parties planned out for winter to use in May’s entertaining-themed editorial calendar.
But for some reason, I’ve been dragging my feet on planning this year’s Thanksgiving recipes. Sure, I can plan plenty of recipes for posting six months from now, but for the next four weeks? Nothing doing.
I think it is because I’m finding myself drawn to a more traditional Thanksgiving menu this year. As I’ve mentioned before, this autumn has been challenging, and I kind of just want the comfort and ease that comes with the tried-and-true recipes of my childhood.
So I’m running with it. I’m focusing on the classics, maybe with a few twists thrown in. Starting with this wineberry salad. My mom has made this every Thanksgiving and Christmas for as long as I can remember. I don’t love the tartness of cranberries on their own, but when mixed with sweet red wine, whipped cream, pecans and raspberry Jell-o, I’m in love.
When I made my menu for our first Thanksgiving away from home back in 2010, wineberry salad was the first thing that went on the list after the turkey. As I folded in the whipped cream, I realized how much I identify the smell of wineberry salad as a signal of the holidays. Forget stuffing and dressing, mashed potatoes, pie. If we have wineberry salad, I’m happy.
But, um, let’s not skip the pie and potatoes. Okay?
Make this wineberry salad up to two days in advance to cut down on your stovetop and kitchen needs on Thanksgiving day!
- 1 cup cranberry juice cocktail (I used a 100% juice, no sugar added variety, but any is fine)
- 1 3-ounce package of raspberry Jell-O
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup sangria or other sweet red wine
- 1 8-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce
- 1 cup whipped cream (I used homemade, but store bought works as well)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Bring the cranberry juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the Jell-O. Whisk in the sugar and sangria until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the juice into a medium to large mixing bowl, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Fold in the cranberry sauce, whipped cream, and pecans until everything is swirled together. Make sure to break up the cranberry sauce, as it tends to hold its shape from the can.
- Pour the salad into a 6 cup mold or baking pan, and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, or until the wineberry salad is firm.