Relish Is the Ultimate No-Waste Way to Use Up Leftover Vegetables

updated Aug 23, 2019
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Credit: Peter Colin Murray/Kitchn

As we tumble headlong into harvest season, your garden or produce box is likely overflowing. The best thing you can do for yourself is plan to start making some relish.

When it comes to the world of pickles and preserves, relish often gets shunted to the side or ignored entirely. This is a shame. A jar of homemade relish can often be a mealtime flavor hero. 

Any sturdy vegetable makes a good relish. At various times in my preserving past, I’ve made them with cucumbers, zucchini, peppers (of all colors and spice levels), kohlrabi, broccoli stems, corn, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, and even green beans. 

How to Use Relish Like the Hero It Is

A finely diced relish is the perfect thing for stirring into dressings and dips. And it adds both brightness and crunch to salads

Shredded relish can be drizzled with tasty oils and served as a marinated salad along roasted meats and sausages, layered into sandwiches, or added to cheese boards for a tart counterpoint. 

Need a mild dipping sauce? Stir relish and mayonnaise together in equal parts: You have tartar sauce at the ready. And the next time you make seafood cakes, add a generous helping to the mix before forming the patties. It adds zip and texture. 

There are a couple things that recommend relish above other preserves. The first is just how easy they are to make. If chopping vegetables into fine cubes with a knife isn’t meditative for you, use a food processor: Its grater blade will shred everything into equal-sized bits. The second is that we have lower “crunch” expectations for relish than we do for whole pickled vegetables. This means a wider variety of vegetables can be used, and not as much thought needs to go into selecting the freshest and most robust produce. 

Credit: Peter Colin Murray/Kitchn

Get a Relish Recipe for Right Now

Ready to make a batch? This zucchini and green pepper relish is a great place to start! 

Credit: Peter Colin Murray/Kitchn

Weeknight Preserving is your beginner’s guide to preserving the best of the season even if you have a small kitchen or a couple hours on a weeknight. We asked Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars for a true beginner’s guide to preserving, from pickles to jams to freezing to fermenting. You (yes you!) can make a pickle or a jam to be proud of this summer. Share your preserving triumphs with us by tagging #thekitchn on Instagram.

Wondering what to do with the pickles you’ve made? Check out Marisa’s latest book, The Food in Jars Kitchen. It contains over 100 recipes to help you cook, bake, transform, and share your homemade preserves!

Follow Marisa on Facebook, Instagram, and by visiting her website Food in Jars.