The lazy days of summer may be turning chilly, and short. But there are still tomatoes, which means it is still summer, right? So there’s some good news. And here’s more: It takes just a few minutes of your time to put together a sparkling, spicy, tomato chutney that will be the envy of all your condiments. If you have a tomato glut at your house (or even if you don’t), this recipe is calling your name. There’s no use resisting.
Spicy tomato chutney is a crowd-pleaser. The sweet and sour do that dance they do with each other. Dress that up in jewel-like red, and combine it with just enough heat from the pepper flakes, and you might just find yourself eating chutney by the spoonful. You can serve it on meat, spread it on grilled cheese, or have a dollop on your scrambled eggs. Truth be told, I did all those things in one 24-hour period. (Okay, okay. I ate a spoonful straight up, too.) If you’re the kind of person who keeps nice little jars around (I’m not, but I’d like to be…), tomato chutney would make an excellent gift. I’m thinking it would be heaven on a cracker with cream cheese. I could go on and on. I guess I have gone on and on. Did I mention that I really love this spicy tomato chutney?
This recipe is pretty much foolproof. Take it from me, the fool. Just chop a few veggies and throw them in a pot with sugar, vinegar, and spices. Then simmer for a couple hours. All it needs from you is the occasional stir. How could you go wrong? Well, you might think you turned the burner off, only to find that you thought about turning it off, but in fact left it on (ahem). Not to worry. Just add some water to your now-very-thick chutney, and it still tastes incredible. Maybe even better, as some carmelizing might have gone on in this hypothetical over-cooking. Not that I would know anything about that…
One note of warning to those of you who live in close quarters: When you simmer that much vinegar, it’s a strong-smelling proposition. Our house smelled like tomato chutney for hours, which was fine with me. But my five-year-old covered his nose and mouth in horror and shrieked that he could not live in this house. He’s a little dramatic sometimes. I tried to sell him the spicy chutney as “ketchup for grown-ups,” but he wouldn’t touch the stuff. The grown-ups, however, raved about it.
SPICY TOMATO CHUTNEY - adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine
makes 1 ½ cups
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chopped green onions (just the green part, not the white)
In a medium saucepan bring vinegars to a boil with sugar, salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to a low simmer.
Stir in tomatoes, bell pepper, and green onion. Simmer mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about two hours, or until thickened and reduced to about one and a half cups.
Cool chutney completely. Chutney keeps for two weeks, covered and chilled.