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Relish is a chunky condiment featuring pickled vegetables, with the most common type being cucumber relish. It can be purchased or prepared in several varieties that include sweet, spicy, and exotic blends. Additional vegetables can be added for a more complex condiment as well. Serving suggestions for the relish include sandwiches such as hot dogs or cheeseburgers, soft cheeses, and as a stir-in ingredient for other dishes.
The basic ingredients in a cucumber relish are grated cucumbers, vinegar, and sugar, with salt added for balance. The cucumbers that are used should be firm and seedless with a good number of bumps on their skin. Using vegetables that are too ripe will prevent the relish from having its distinctive chunky texture and will instead turn to mush. A popular sweet variety of cucumber relish can be made using the base ingredients combined with sugar, mustard seed, and turmeric, with cornstarch being stirred in as a thickener. The combination is boiled for an hour for reduction, and the result is a good universal relish condiment that suits a wide range of sandwiches.
There are a number of varieties of cucumber relish as well depending on the consumers' taste preferences. Spicy cucumber relish can involve diced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or dried chilies, with sugar included, though the sweetness is more subdued in this relish. The spiciness pairs especially well with cheeseburgers or cheddar-filled sausages. Exotic versions can be made with a few small tweaks. Middle Eastern-influenced relish includes red chilies, cilantro, and chopped nuts, while Mediterranean relish uses chopped olives and Greek seasoning and ajad, or Thai cucumber relish, features fresno chilies and shallots.
Additional diced vegetables can be added to any cucumber relish recipe for added texture, flavor, and nutrients. Green, red, and yellow peppers are particularly well-suited for this task. Zucchini and squash can also be used for a different take on the condiment. Any vegetable that serves well when pickled is usually a great addition to a relish.
Cucumber relish is most often used as a condiment for sandwiches, but it can also be served smeared on soft cheeses such as brie or cream cheese. Relish has additional uses as a spiced ingredient, as it is commonly added to deviled eggs, where it mixes with mustard and cooked egg yolks as a filling. It’s also used in the similarly creamy dish of chicken salad and other salad-type sandwich fillings.