Some holiday dishes defy time—the green bean casserole and Jell-O molds are two that come to mind. But when I was thinking about Thanksgiving meals past, I had forgotten all about the relish tray. Every holiday required the hostess to bring out her divided glass dish and fill it with the savory treats she had “put up” the previous harvest. Pickled and preserved vegetables were simply set out to sate the guest's appetite while waiting for the big meal. It was the proper thing to do after all.
I, too, have a relish tray. It’s a pretty crystal glass dish that was given to me as a wedding gift. Something I don’t think too many modern brides would bother registering for today. In fact, my quick research showed EBay as the only place you could actually find a relish tray today. That and your grandmother’s pantry perhaps.
So what do you do with it? Simply set out any divided dish, or make one yourself using hollowed out cabbages and peppers, then fill it with pickles (sweet gherkins, butter, dill), olives (black, pimento-stuffed green), cheeses, carrots, cucumbers, deviled eggs, even nuts—a sort of modern crudité, if you will. The contents are as varied as our family traditions themselves.
I plan to dust off my dish this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’ll even spice things up a bit and add some stuffed olives into to the mix.