We've all eaten breakfast for dinner at least once - feeding on a stack of pancakes or an omelette as the main course. Admittedly, it's not my favorite thing to do. I like breakfast foods for breakfast and lunch foods for lunch and dinner foods for dinner, which I guess makes me a meal-time purist. To me, the prospects of eating a sandwich for dinner is depressing. I like pancakes as much as the next girl, but one very big roadblock is that a glass of wine with pancakes is always going to be weird. And, let's be real, one of the best things about dinner is wine.
So, I was rather surprised when, two nights ago, we got a little wacky with the order of meal-time operations and ate a slew of appetizers for dinner. The sudden desire to eat appetizers for dinner wasn't founded in a particularly romantic or cutesy moment, we did it for two very boring, very practical reasons: an accumulation of appetizer-y things in the fridge that needed to be eaten and a desire to avoid turning on the oven at all costs. But, what started out as a means to an end, became kind of festive and special. Maybe it was as simple as doing something different, a break from the norm, or maybe it's because appetizers make everything feel kind of fancy, but eating with our fingers and sampling a little bit of everything was kind of an awesome way to eat dinner.
Inspired by the kind of strange looking, but oh-so-tasty heirlooms at the market, I had concocted this sweet and spicy tomato chutney earlier in the day, which was another one of the main driving forces behind my urge to make appetizers for dinner. The chutney is beyond delicious and the definition of versatile. As part of our dinner o' appetizers, we were slathering it on crusty bread and Ronnybrook creme fraiche, which was surprisingly satisfying. Tangy and sweet and spicy - each bite offered a new dimension of flavor. Surprisingly, we had some leftover after our tapas-style feast and Damien has been happily using it on his lunchtime sandwiches this week. If D hadn't used the last of it today, I would think about grilling up some chicken and coating it with a layer of this chutney just as it comes off the grill.
Texture is a big one for me. I like chunky salsa. I like OJ with pulp. I like guacamole dotted with discernable hunks of avocado. So, it makes sense that I like a chutney with some body. I only cooked the chutney until the liquid was absorbed and the mixture was fairly dry in the pan, allowing for some of the softened diced tomato and onion and pepper to remain intact. Some folks prefer a smoother chutney, which is totally fine, just cook it a little longer, maybe get in there with a fork or a masher to remove lumps and bumps. You could, if you so desired, even give it a whirl in the food processor to create a completely smooth sauce, and then return it to the pan to finish cooking.
I'll be making a version of this chutney on Saturday in a demo I'm doing for GrowNYC at the Fort Greene greenmarket. So, if you're in the 'hood and want a sample - come by, say howdy and sneak a taste. And, if you live somewhere else, like Ireland or Oregon or South Africa, then maybe give this chutney a go for yourself and think about having appetizers for dinner.
Yields ~2 cups
What you'll need:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 jalapeno or cayenne pepper, minced
1 red onion, diced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey**
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
1 large peach
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt, maybe more
1/4 tsp black pepper
In a large sauté pan, combine the olive oil, poblano & chile peppers, red onion, garlic and ginger. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Add the mustard seeds and allow them to toast in the heat of the pan for 2 minutes.
Add both vinegars and the honey**, stirring well to mix. Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes and peach, cumin and coriander. Stir two or three times and then leave the chutney on low heat, uncovered, simmering until the tomatoes and peach cook down leaving a thick chutney with no liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan.
Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
This chutney will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.
**How much honey you use depends on the natural sweetness of the peach. Feel free to add more honey if needed.