Sweet pickle relish—the relish we know and love—is a vital member of the summer condiment trifecta along with ketchup and mustard. In fact, it’s so widely used that “sweet pickle relish” has become synonymous with the word “relish,” even though traditionally, “relish” was a much looser term that incorporated all kinds of vegetables—not just cucumbers. The word comes from an old French expression reles, meaning “something remaining.” Back in the 1700s, at the end of the harvest, French farmers would take whatever leftover produce they couldn’t can whole, chop it finely, and add a combination of vinegar, wine, sugar, and spices to the mix.
You can see that direct lineage in relishes like piccalilli, the British condiment made with minced cauliflower, cucumber and onion, and chow chow, the southern U.S. version with corn, tomatoes and cabbage. Piccalilli also shares roots with Indian chutney—it’s often seasoned with turmeric—and chow chow was mostly likely influenced by the pickled vegetables brought from California to the south by Chinese railroad workers.
The enduring tradition of relishes is one that’s ripe for revisiting right now, as the bounty of summer produce begins to wane and it’s an ideal time to figure out what to do with the fruits and vegetables that are still kicking around our kitchens—that “something remaining.” Here are five relish recipes from blogs that we love, plus a recipe of our own.
Sweet Corn Relish
Summer corn is at its peak: sweet, crisp and juicy all at once. It’s an essential ingredient in our Pan-Seared Fish with Sweet Corn Relish and Quinoa, shipping this August.
Sweet Peach Relish
Sweet, juicy peaches at their ripest with lime and a little jalapeno heat in a relish—what could taste more like summer? Well, maybe putting that on some barbecued short ribs.
(Image: Half Baked Harvest)
Hot Pepper Relish
For spice lovers, a mix of hot and sweet peppers can be a spicier substitute for the classically sweet pickle. Try it on a hot dog—or really anything simple that you do on the grill. Here’s the recipe for hot pepper relish from Chilipepper Madness
Caramelized eggplant with onions, bell peppers, and garlic—classic bold, rich Mediterranean flavors—provide a savory base to balance out the tang of the vinegar and the sweetness of the sugar in this caponata with sweet and sour eggplant relish from Panning The Globe. It’s wonderful as a topping for bruschetta.
Grilled Lemon and Garlic Relish
This lemon and garlic relish recipe is one of the best ways to take advantage of summer’s precious last days of grilling. The relish makes a tasty topping for grilled chicken or fish.
(Image: Brooklyn Supper)