Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spiced Rhubarb Chutney

I have always thought of rhubarb as an exotic and mysterious food. Why, you ask? Well, first there's the often tomato-centered conundrum: fruit or vegetable? I know what youre feeling - the word fruit is on the tip of your tongue, but something stopped you from officially categorizing it as such. But is it a...vegetable?

Although it may feel strange to say...yes, yes it is! Go on, say it with confidence now. Rhubarb = vegetable. Although we often pair rhubarb with fruit, or apply it to fruit-like applications in cooking, it is actually a good 'ol veg. It's a beautiful, large-leafed plant that sprawls far and wide with the ruby sweet-tart stalks that we put in pies and jams.

Some people love it. Hooray for rhubarb! It signals the coming of summer and is versatile in its culinary applications. Some people, on the other hand, in the reaction to hearing the word 'rhubarb', or when presented with it's long, red stalk in front of their face, will only respond with; "What the...?" and feel slightly afraid. My conclusion? It's time to spread the word of rhubarb. Tis the season for it, and I'm here to tell you all about it's multifaceted - mysterious and exotic - personality.

That's right, I'm pushing your Rhubarb comfort zone. Although we love this fruit-disguised vegetable in our pies, muffins, cobblers, and preserves, it's savory side is too often ignored...or never even addressed! This recipe responds to Rhubarb's Other Side, and I think you will be delighted to get to know each other. Here it is made into a chutney; a sweet and savory condiment that hits your tongue on so many levels that you'll be thoroughly entertained with every bite. From fresh ginger to cloves to red onion to crushed red pepper and golden raisins...no flavor sensation is left behind.

I was able to share this recipe and chutney with the Longmont Market-goers last weekend, as I have the special opportunity to run the Farmers' Market booth for the Culinary School of the Rockies this season in both Boulder and Longmont, CO. We offer seasonal recipes every week to market shoppers, with one in particular that we make and of which we give out samples. The featured recipe always centers around a peak produce item that is shooting out of the soil at that moment, and is therefore flowing off of the farmers' booths at the market that week. Our visitors can therefore taste our dish, take the recipe with them, and continue to shop for the freshest ingredients right there to make the dish and wow their friends at home. It's seasonal cooking and eating at it's finest.

So go on, head to the next market nearest you and grab a double handful of rhubarb. You're allowed to make your pie, don't worry, but reserve some for a savory treat too.

All-Star Tasters!

Cut right from the soil of Grant Family Farms and Miller Farms

Spiced Rhubarb Chutney
This chutney is fantastic on grilled meats, my favorite being grilled or roasted pork. I also love it simply as a condiment, either in sandwiches, mixed into yogurt, or for breakfast as you'll see below; on toast over a good smear of creamy goat cheese.


3/4 cup Sugar (feel free to adjust sugar levels to your liking)
1/3 cup Cider vinegar
1 Tb. Minced peeled fresh ginger
1 Tb. Minced garlic
1 tsp. Ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground cloves
1/4 tsp. Dried crushed red pepper
4 cups Fresh rhubarb (about 1 ½ lbs.) cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2 cup Chopped red onion
1/3 cup Dried tart cherries or golden raisins (or both!)


Combine first 8 ingredients in a large heavy pot with lid. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and dried cherries or raisins. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let mixture cool completely.

Can be refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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