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Rosy Rhubarb Chutney

by Jane Worthington-Roth

This season’s first beautiful rosy rhubarb stalks are available in local grocers and farmers’ markets. Its long stalks are crisp with a strong tart taste. Although not technically a fruit, it is often treated as one and appears with strawberries in classic Strawberry Rhubarb Pies.

I like to think of it as my warm weather option for cranberry sauce. Whereas cranberry sauce always accompanies our Thanksgiving turkey, rhubarb chutney is the perfect condiment for summer’s grilled chicken, pork or lamb. It’s tart, sweet, savory and delicious.

Rhubarb Chutney also makes an easy appetizer. Top Ritz crackers with a little cream cheese and a dollop of homemade rhubarb chutney. It couldn’t be an easier treat for those unexpected guests!

It’s important to note that only the stalks are edible, so be sure to trim off any leaves and toss them out.

Rhubarb Chutney/Compote

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pan and continue simmering for 15 minutes until the rhubarb is very tender. Stir occasionally and make sure the mixture is not sticking to the pan and beginning to scorch adding a little water if necessary.

Uncover and simmer until thickened, about 5 additional minutes.

Let cool then adjust the flavor. If the chutney seems to tart, stir in some more brown sugar, a tablespoon at a time. If it seems too sweet, add a little more vinegar. The chutney can be refrigerated up to a week. For an extra herbal punch, add some chopped fresh rosemary or sage, just before serving.

You can easily change this recipe to make a rhubarb compote topping for ice cream! It looks beautiful and tastes especially wonderful when served warm on top of French Vanilla ice cream. To make the compote, don’t use the sautéed onion (leaving out the oil, onion and salt), and swap out the vinegar for water. Once again, adjust the taste by adding a bit more sugar to sweeten, or another squeeze of lemon juice for tartness.