Those brilliant red hued stalks are showing up at the Farmer’s Markets and so it begins the season of rhubarb. I love when this season is upon us.
I have some great childhood memories surrounding rhubarb. My mom loved the season as well and I remember her rhubarb pies. That woman could put out one fantastic pie! As a child I always thought that her rhubarb pies were just a bit more on the tart side than my young taste buds desired, but still delightful nonetheless.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of waiting (impatiently!) as my best friend sat in the kitchen of our neighbor’s house, who was often her babysitter during the day. She had to finish her bowl of cooked rhubarb before she could come out an play with me. I think we were around 7 years old. I stood in the backyard, looking with pleading eyes up the back stairs begging her to “just eat it!”. She sulked at the kitchen table, staring into this bowl of rhubarb quietly uttering distain . She was not a fan of this mushy dish and had been sitting unmoved, reluctant to finish that bowl. Like any good friend would do, I snuck up those back steps when neighbor mom was not in sight, and would grab a bite of my friends rhubarb, then run back down to the yard. Each time the coast was clear for me to do this again, I did so until that little bowl of rhubarb was gone. My friend then happily called out to her care taker that she was done and we happily skipped off into play.
My love of rhubarb is just as strong today as it was then. In this recent post (http://wp.me/4cJfr) I mentioned a rhubarb chutney I made for our Mother’s Day appetizer. After making my rhubarb cake I had just a little rhubarb left and wanted to use it while it was still fresh from the market so I did a little recipe perusing and discovered this fantastic recipe from one of my favorite websites: http://lexieskitchen.com/ This recipe is called Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney. Here’s the original recipe below. The amount of rhubarb I had left was about half of what the recipe called for, so I cut the entire recipe in half and added a few notes about other changes. Seriously, this is so delicious I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! It is just that good. Give it a try. Maybe you’ll fall in love with this chutney as much as I did. Enjoy!
Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney
1/4 cup HONEY
1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR
1/4 cup APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (or balsamic or a mixture of both) (I used both, and too much! but next time I would only use apple cider. The balsamic gave it a darker than I cared for kind of color))
1 CINNAMON stick
2 teaspoons minced fresh GINGER
1 teaspoon finely grated LEMON PEEL
1/2 teaspoon CHINESE FIVE SPICE
1/4 teaspoon SEA SALT
Dash CAYENNE PEPPER (optional) (I didn’t add this)
3 cups 1″ cubed RHUBARB
1/4 medium ONION, minced
1/4-1/2 cup dried, unsweetened CHERRIES (or raisins or currants) (completely forgot to add cherries & it was still fabulous!)
In medium pot, combine honey, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick, ginger, lemon peel, five spice, salt and cayenne. Bring to gentle simmer. Add remaining ingredients and cook down until thick and chunky—about 30-40 minutes over medium low heat, stirring frequently.
I topped sesame rice thin crackers with Chive & Onion flavored Daiya “cream cheese”, a dollop of the chutney and some fresh cut chives from our garden for garnish. Beautiful, right?! Fantastically delicious, too!
The chutney that didn’t go on top of the crackers went into our dinner. Here’s what I created:
We had some grilled grass fed London broil steaks left over from the day before so I cubed it, mixed it up with the chutney and put it on top of greens from our garden along with some more farmers market veggies. Because we were going on a picnic I wanted this dish to be portable and easy to eat. I had some rice paper wraps, the kind you use for spring rolls that I dropped ever so briefly into hot oil so it puffed up like a bowl. There is was! Easy to eat, finger food salad! It was pretty tasty and my sweetie was quite impressed! Score!