In Praise of the Relish Tray

In Praise of the Relish Tray

Joanna Miller
Apr 8, 2009
Growing up, family meals weren't complete without my grandma's relish tray. It was always served on a divided glass platter, and usually included pitted black olives, pimento-stuffed green olives, pickled okra, tiny sweet gherkins (though we just called them pickles) and radishes, and maybe some sliced cucumbers from my grandpa's garden or a few cherry tomatoes.

The relish tray was always set out as an appetizer and on special occasions might be accompanied by a homemade cheese ball and crackers. Starting at a very young age, I would go straight for the black olives, popping one on each finger and eating them until my stomach ached. When I got a little older, the pickled okra became my favorite.

The term "relish tray" is a bit old fashioned, but the practice of putting out bite-sized fresh and pickled vegetables before a meal has never really gone away. And how many restaurants are now incorporating plates of homemade pickles into their menus?

For me, a relish tray is heavy on the pickled items and doesn't include dip – that's for another platter. My updated version might include some homemade pickled green beans and carrots or maybe a few favorites from Rick's Picks, but it still wouldn't be complete without the olives, gherkins and pickled okra.

And these recycled glass servers from Viva Terra are a great eco-friendly twist on the classic glass platter.

How about you? Did you grow up nibbling on relish trays? Do you still incorporate them into your meals?

Related: Recipe: Pickletini

(Image: Viva Terra)

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