My garden is in fast gear, with tomato plants responding to the sun-filled southern-facing lot by growing nearly as tall as me. I even found some blushing tomatoes buried underneath the thick foliage. The spinach was prolific, and as quickly as I could keep up, I ate it — pureed in soup, paired with artichokes in a cheesy dip, big green leaves slipped into quesadillas, and salad. Lots of salad. Then as quickly as it flourished, the spinach went to seed. Lettuces, chard and kale, are also generous producers and keep on giving. I clipped the kale and transformed it quickly into kale chips, and chard landed in the freezer after a quick blanch. As the season slips by, I am alternately thrilled with each burst of growth — and anxious to keep up with the abundance. Gardening is a be-here-now sport. Eat it while you have it or quickly preserve it. Nature doesn’t tolerate the procrastinator. Yet, maybe it’s more of a practice than a sport, the daily act of observing and tending. As I observe my tomatoes that have apparently gotten a head start, I am readying the canning supplies, or at minimum freezer bags, so I can simultaneously be thrilled and preserve.
With that gardening preface, I am offering up a post with something NOT from my garden. I grabbed an early season star — rhubarb — from the farmers market. The red-green stalks are on my to-grow list for next season. This is a Martha Stewart recipe that I tweaked to include dried sour cherries — one of my favorites. I like their sweet-sour flavor and chewy texture. Despite their name, the cherries aren’t mouth-puckering sour, and there’s just enough sweet to complement the rhubarb. Since rhubarb is always starring in summer desserts, I thought it time to find another place for it at the table, hence a chutney as foil for spicy food as well as other creative uses.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice)
1/3 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. rhubarb, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and 1/2 tsp. salt. Saute until onions are translucent – about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Add wine and cherries. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves. Stir in half the rhubarb and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat. Simmer the mixture, partially covered, until rhubarb breaks down – about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the second round of rhubarb begins to soften — about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.
4. Adjust flavors as needed by adding a little white wine vinegar or a touch of sugar.
- Use this chutney to top off cheese and crackers or pair it with spicy Indian food. It is also good in sandwiches.
- Try replacing the cherries with raisins or currants.