Leek & Rhubarb Tango

My rhubarb, planted last year, is not anywhere near established enough to pick.

In fact, I don’t think it likes where I’ve put it at all so I’m going to move it.  It’s going to be another year before I can harvest rhubarb from my garden. Still, I do love rhubarb, and now is the time to get hold of some of the pretty pink forced rhubarb that’s for sale.

I was cooking some leeks the other day, and at the same time I had some (shop bought) rhubarb in the pan next to it, destined for a desert.

The fresh green ‘groom’ and the blushing pink ‘bride’ looked so complimentary side by side it got me thinking… If leeks and rhubarb looked so good together, what might they taste like together? I Googled to see if there were any recipes but couldn’t find anything significant.

But still, with the oniony-ness of the leeks and the sharp fruitiness of the rhubarb, I felt there was some tangy and tasty potential to be had. There was a bit of a fight going on, so I wondered what third ingredient might successfully secure their relationship… I felt it needed to be something sweet to soften the tartness of the rhubarb and to bring the leeks to heel. I had a rummage around in the pantry and found an unopened Christmas present. A jar of homemade Apple & Sage Jelly (made to a recipe from River Cottage Preserves, and absolutely delicious). I added the cooked leeks and rhubarb together, stirred in a few teaspoons of the jelly and slowly heated it through. I fried a couple of leaves of fresh sage to make them crisp (it only takes a few seconds) and we tried it out with some sausages and couscous.

Well, it was rather nice. Not perfect, but nice. My daughter scoffed the lot, which is a good sign. I kept some back and that was nicer-still, used the next day as a cold chutney with cheese and biscuits. The flavours had melded, and it was more subtle. Not perfect, but nice.

This is a bit of a work in progress, so I’d welcome your thoughts on what else might be a good third ingredient (or 4th and 5th). Any ideas?


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