Now that we’ve gleaned and donated most of the kale, chard, spinach and cilantro, the main vegetable we still have in abundance is rhubarb. Since I’m staying away from sugar and other sweeteners for the time being, I am taking on the fun creative challenge of exploring ways to enjoy rhubarb in savory dishes rather than its usual role in all kinds of desserts.
The first idea that came to mind was a rhubarb salsa. After all, it is the tartness of tomatoes that makes them perfect for preserving and pair so wonderfully with sharp and savory flavors. I figured rhubarb could accomplish a similar flavor profile, texture, and color as a salsa verde.
I wasn’t the first person to think of this, as it turned out. Within a couple minutes, I tracked down a promising recipe from GNOWFGLINS for a delicious rhubarb salsa. Fermented even! I couldn’t help playing with it a little, of course, and ultimately decided not to try to ferment it since the weather has been so warm lately and I don’t have experience with fermenting a condiment, especially with whey. I’m excited to try it after it’s had a few days to marinate in the fridge! I also want to be sure to check out this site more soon, which lots like an incredible source of information and innovative recipes for “traditional cooking.”
Since rhubarb and peppers don’t grow in the same season, the recipe suggested freezing either the rhubarb or peppers in order to prepare this recipe from local, seasonal ingredients. I may try freezing some rhubarb to throw into a salsa this summer, when we have peppers coming out of our ears. For now, I just used chili powder (a mix of Chamayo and Black Hungarian) that we ground from peppers we dried last season. Worked just fine!
UPDATE (4/16/17): Pulled out the salsa to accompany dinner tonight. Knocked my socks off. SO. GOOD. To be completely honest, I was a bit skeptical when I tried it the night I made it, as the flavors seemed a bit discordant, but after two days in the fridge, they have melded into a harmony beyond words.
UPDATE (4/22/17): Made another batch, since I already ate through the entire quart in less than a week. Quite possibly the best salsa I’ve ever eaten. This time around, I just simmered the rhubarb and onion, then stirred in salt, chili powder, minced ginger, and cilantro once it cooled and it was perfect right off the bat! Doesn’t get much simpler or tastier!
UPDATE (6/12/17): I’ve made several batches at this point, using the simplified variation described just above… it’s become a staple of our diets. The latest I made without ginger, but with lots of sautéed garlic scopes instead. Yum!
Makes about 1 quart
8-10 stalks rhubarb, chopped
1-3 tablespoons freshly grated or minced ginger, to taste (optional)
1 chopped onion
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
Ground dried chilies, to taste (or fresh or frozen sweet and hot peppers if you have them)
1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest (or other citrus rind, and/or juice from a lemon or lime if you have it available, optional)
Several sprigs finely chopped cilantro, to taste (optional)
A couple sprigs oregano, finely minced (optional)
Simmer rhubarb and onions, covered, with a few tablespoons of water until soft. Let cool, then stir in remaining ingredients and adjust to taste. Spoon into a quart mason jar. If desired, you can add 1/2 of whey or sauerkraut brine and leave to ferment on the counter for a day or two. (I have not tried this yet and am not sure if it would need to be weighed somehow, etc). Otherwise, let the flavors meld together in the fridge for a couple days, if possible. Keep refrigerated and enjoy within 3-4 weeks.