Creative Ways With Chutney

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Apples And Peaches And Pears Oh My

As summer slips seamlessly into autumn, the most satisfying fruit harvest of the year begins. Late peaches and early apples mingle with raspberries and pears. Grapes and blueberries, kiwis and figs, so much delicious goodness arriving all at once! I freeze a lot of berries to enjoy with winter breakfasts, but I find stone fruit are really best when fresh. However, even I can only eat so many cobblers and pies and tarts, and there is an end to the amount of jam a person wants to make.

Most fruit is complex enough in flavor that it works as well in savory dishes as sweet ones. One of my family’s favorite condiments, chutney, combines the sweet with the savory and makes a delicious garnish, side, or sauce. Traditionally, chutneys complement vegetarian entrees as well as fish or chicken. Though a little goes a long way, there are lots of creative ways to include chutney in daily meals.

Charming Chutney Choices

Chopped fine, chutney can be added to salad dressings for both fruity and green salads. Chutney also adds pizzazz to bland chicken or tuna salads and combines with soft goat cheese to make intriguingly flavorful dips. Spread this creamy stuff on crackers or tiny bread rounds and broil briefly to make an irresistible appetizer. Cooked chutneys keep for a long time when processed in canning jars, but should be refrigerated and used within 2 months after opening.

Made like jam, conserves are less sweet and use larger pieces of fruit, often mixed with dried fruit and nuts. Often spicy or sweet-hot, they are used like chutney, as a condiment or partnered with soft cheese as an appetizer. Conserves are also lovely spooned over plain cake or ice cream or served in a baked pie shell. Try these basic recipes, then experiment with different combinations of fresh and dried fruit and nuts.

A Late Summer Starter Chutney

Here’s a basic recipe for a rich, fruity chutney that can be made with all sorts of fruit, including pears, nectarines, and figs. In fact, it’s quite good made with zucchini and apples, or winter squash and pears as well.

Basic Fruit Chutney

2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup raisins OR chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
(Braeburn, Gala, or Jonathan are good)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons candied ginger, chopped
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, sea salt, and cardamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne or hot pepper flakes
3 hot 8-ounce canning jars, with rings and lids

In a large pot, combine first 9 ingredients with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until slightly thickened (20-30 minutes). Add spices and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Spoon into hot jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch head room. Seal jars, then process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let cure for 2-3 weeks and refrigerate after opening.

Chutney In Sauces And Dressings

There are also a lot of fresh chutneys, some very spicy, others sweet-tart. Try them as hot sauces for grilled eggplant, fish, or chicken, or serve them over hot basmati rice.

Fresh Cilantro Chutney

1 cup cilantro, stemmed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ripe tomato, diced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 drops hot chili oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree to a slurry. Adjust seasoning to taste (sauce should be thin and spunky in flavor). Makes about 1/2 cup. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.

Warm Chicken Salad With Spicy Peach Sauce

4 cups Romaine, sliced into ribbons
2 cups cooked chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup Spicy Peach Sauce, hot (see below)
1/4 cup roasted almonds

In a large bowl, gently toss all ingredients and serve. Serves 4.

Spicy Peach Sauce

1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes
2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon honey

In a deep saucepan, cook oil, garlic, onion, salt, and chipotle pepper flakes over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add peaches and honey, cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (8-10 minutes). Serve hot or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Freeze in small containers for up to 3 months. Makes about 2 cups.

Broiled Salmon With Blueberry Ginger Sauce

2 pounds 1-inch thick salmon fillet
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups blueberries
1-2 teaspoons honey or sugar

Preheat broiler. Rinse fish, pat dry and set on a broiler pan,
skin side down. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine oil, garlic, remaining salt and pepper, and gingers over medium high heat and cook for 3 minutes. Add blueberries and 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer, cover pan and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until tender (5-6 minutes). Add honey or sugar to taste. Broil fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Fish should be opaque when flaked (136 degrees F internal temperature). Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes, then serve with sauce. Serves 3-4.

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