I think rhubarb is one of the most beautiful vegetables around (that’s right – it’s a vegetable). Varying from deep ruby red to pale carnation pink on the outside, the insides of the stalks are a surprisingly vivid green when cut open. So when I stumbled upon a recipe for Gingered Rhubarb Chutney I was intrigued. I imagined a jar full of majestic chunks of crimson swimming in a thick, lustrous sauce. It would be such a striking accompaniment for grilled pork or chicken or a lovely sauce for roasted vegetables. Even a stunning accessory for a cheese plate.
So I picked up a bunch of freshly picked rhubarb from our local farmer’s market and headed over to my friend Caitlin’s house for an afternoon of culinary experimentation. We were baking my favorite muffins as well as a new recipe for a healthy banana coconut version. And we agreed that the rhubarb chutney recipe sounded like a winner – so why not try it. I figured that it was meant to be when I noticed that the jaunty letters she has splayed above her kitchen matched the ruby red of the rhubarb stalks poking out of my bag…
I suppose I should have read the recipe a little closer. I was initially focused, however, on the baking. While I was elbow deep in muffins, Caitlin carefully measured all the Chutney ingredients into her lovely orange Le Creuset French oven. When I finally turned my attention to the simmering pot I was mildly surprised to note its dark brown appearance. I hadn’t realized that the balsamic vinegar would dominate the contents to such a degree. I was, admittedly, a bit dismayed – thinking that the visually appealing jars of ruby red chutney I had hoped to dole out as gifts were not meant to be. But Caitlin was encouraging so we let the pot do its thing.
What resulted when all was said and done was a densely flavored chutney featuring a strong acidic hit from the rhubarb and vinegar, balanced by the sweetness of the currants. The various spices – the ginger, cardamom and jalapeño – all melded together to give it an unexpected dimension. And when Caitlin’s dear husband (another true foodie) tasted it, his only response was, “Word.” Which translates to “yum.” They assured me the chutney would be an excellent accompaniment to all the grilled meats they prepare. And I agree that it’s a keeper.
So – lesson learned. We started out with a stunningly gorgeous vegetable – one that I gaze at adoringly in its natural state. And it turned into something I hesitated to photograph for this post. It just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving.
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Gingered Rhubarb Chutney
(Adopted from a Cooking Light recipe)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 cups finely chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about a half hour or until it thickens.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
This can be stored in jars in the refrigerator for several weeks.