My inspiration for creating new recipes comes from the craziest places. It might be a beautiful display of orange, yellow and red peppers all piled up and glistening, just beckoning me as I walk into a local market. Sometimes it's traveling to foreign countries or even different cities here in the US. It might be a fun new restaurant, an interesting magazine, a visit to a local orchard or a farmer's market. Often, it's simply something I find on a super sale at the grocery store. And crazy as it sounds, sometimes I just wake up in the morning with recipe ideas swirling and twirling in my brain, and I can hardly wait to get to the kitchen to try them out.
This time was a bit different. Nothing very grand or story-worthy. It was just plain old necessity, as they say, that was the mother of this invention. I was preparing a birthday dinner last week for my wonderful husband. I had invited family and friends and was scurrying to shop, prep and cook that day as I had been out of town the previous week and hadn't had much time to plan. Things were rolling along fairly smooth when I realized I had totally forgotten about an appetizer.
My husband and family love appetizers, and, since it was a special occasion, I wanted something fun, unique and delicious. Oh, and fast. Time was slipping by. I checked my resources. I had some really nice cheese and a supply of crackers. A bit boring, but it could work. Now, if there was something else to add a bit of zip. The apples and pears in my crisper drawer gave me an idea; how about a chutney? Hmmmm, that sounded great as a gourmet touch to the plain-Jane cheese and cracker tray.
I grabbed a bit of this and that and went to work. I combined pepper jelly and orange marmalade with diced apples, pears and onion for a bit of heat and a touch of sweet citrus flavor. More layers of flavor were added with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and a splash of soy sauce. A short simmer on the stove top to soften the fruit and meld the flavors came next. I was almost done. The finishing touch for a bit of freshness was a handful of finely chopped cilantro, added just before serving.
Everyone went crazy over this Apple and Pear Chutney. I filled the bowl twice and worried that no one would want my dinner. The next day I layered it with chicken sausage and melting cheese in between artisan bread slices for a fabulous panini lunch. A few days later I served it as a wonderful accompaniment to grilled pork.
I knew this was a keeper for sure. I recreated the chutney, this time carefully measuring (no dashes, or splashes or handfuls), so that you too could have fun with this easy, delicious, unique chutney. It comes together so quickly, and I love that you don't even have to peel the apples and pears.
In addition to the ways I used it, this Apple & Pear Chutney would also make lovely gifts packaged in pretty jars with a log of goat cheese or cream cheese and a box of gourmet crackers or a bag of homemade crackers. And with the holiday season coming up, things will probably get a bit crazy at your place too .......... you never know, this chutney may just save your day, like it did mine!
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ medium red onion diced
- 1 medium clove garlic finely minced
- 1 medium apple cored and cut in ¼ inch dice
- 1 medium pear cored and cut in ¼ inch dice
- ¼ cup red pepper jelly you could use any color pepper jelly or use all orange marmalade and a teaspoon or two of Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce, depending on your taste.
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup apple juice or water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium size saucepan. Add red onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add apples, pears, pepper jelly, marmalade, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, brown sugar and soy sauce. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until apples and pears are soft and the liquid is syrupy.
Add raisins and cook another minute.
Add chopped cilantro just before serving. Stir to combine.
Serve with cheese and crackers. Spoon over goat cheese or cream cheese and serve with crackers or crostini. Serve with roast or grilled pork. Also makes a wonderful spread for panini's with cheese and smoked turkey, ham or chicken sausage.