Cooking Challenge – Pineapple-Walnut Chutney
The Tidings Cooking Challenge is an opportunity for food lovers to try their hand at creating something together. Not all in the same kitchen, of course. Rather, try the recipe in your own time and then come back and tell us what you thought of it. You can add your comments directly underneath the post, or send a photo of your creation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This time, we’re hoping you’ll try your hand at making Pineapple-Walnut Chutney. This is the perfect side to almost any main in any season. Enjoy it alongside steamed tilapia and rice or roasted Cornish hens. This week’s cooking challenge can be made a few days before you’re serving it and kept covered in the fridge.
Pineapple season runs approximately from March to July depending on where they come from. Their sour-sweet taste makes them the perfect accompaniment to both sweet and savoury dishes, hence today’s chutney. Pineapples will ripen at room temperature, but it’s best if you can find one that was left on the tree to ripen as long as possible. Once at a Caribbean festival, I wandered over to a table piled high with pineapples. The man selling them assured me that they were completely tree-ripened, picked that morning, then flown in just in time for the festival. Oh … sure, I thought sarcastically. I said, “Ok, I’ll bite.”
I took it home and sliced it up. Do you know that it was the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious pineapple I have ever had? I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same great luck at your local supermarket, but here are some tips to better your chances.
Look for leaves that are green with no yellow or brown spots. The pineapple should give slightly when gently squeezed. Any brown spots on the body are signs of over-ripening. Here’s a bit of folklore. I’ve heard that if one of the centre leaves can be pulled easily, then the pineapple is ripe. I’m not suggesting that it’s the best way to check for ripeness, or even halfway reliable, but I have had some success with that little trick.
The other tasty component of this recipe is the addition of walnuts. Healthy, full of protein and, as I just said, delicious, try gently roasting the them in an ungreased frying pan set over low heat before adding them to the other ingredients. If you have the time to shell the nuts yourself, you will be using walnuts that are at their best. Buying a container of shelled nuts is fine if you know how long they’ve been sitting. Nuts can go rancid after a time. Fresh walnuts have a pleasant and subtle sweetness.
Come back tomorrow (after you’ve made the recipe below, of course) to check out Nancy Johnson’s fabulous recipes!
Makes about 1 cup
2 dried red chilies, stemmed
1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups pineapple, chopped
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1. Crush chilies and mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle, or place in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
2. In a small pot, combine the chili mixture, ginger, garlic, pineapple chunks and juice, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 35 minutes.
3. Stir in walnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.