Monday, May 18, 2009

Rhubarb, Cherry and Port Sauce

I bought two pounds of rhubarb this weekend at the farmers' market with no idea of what I was going to do with it. This was partly because I like a challenge. This rhubarb, cherry and port sauce is full of intense flavor, but it is also good for your health.

Rhubarb is a relative of buckwheat and has a sour flavor if eaten alone. Rhubarb has been used as traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times. The anthraquinones in rhubarb are capable of inhibiting cellular proliferation (i.e. preventing cancer from metastasizing).

Tart cherries are packed with antioxidants. Researchers claim tart cherries are full of antioxidants, help with diabetes, and may prevent cancer.

I love when these tasty foods are also good for me.

Rhubarb, Cherry and Port Sauce
Makes approximately 2 cups


1/2 cup ruby port
1/2 cup sweetened dried tart cherries
½ tablespoon of canola oil
1 cup red onion, finely minced
6 ounces of fresh rhubarb, trimmed and sliced thin (approx 1/8th inch thick)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cool water
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon agave
1 allspice berry, crushed


In a small saucepan heat the port and cherries until the port begins to simmer. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pan and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Sauté shallots in the canola oil with a pinch of kosher salt until the shallots just begin to caramelize.

Add the sliced rhubarb to the onions and continue to cook until the rhubarb is soft (this should take about 5 minutes).

Add the vegetable stock and cherry flavored port to the onions and rhubarb and continue to cook over low heat (the pan should be at a low simmer) until the sauce has reduced by one third (approximately 20 minutes). Whisk the arrowroot into the water and then whisk it into the sauce. Arrowroot will gelatinize between 140 and 187 degrees. Add the agave, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning.

I hold this sauce on my simmer burner on the lowest setting while I make the rest of dinner.


This sauce is a symphony of flavors. The pop of cherry is nice when you get a whole cherry in a bite. The port flavor is noticeable but not overpowering. The rhubarb mostly disappears into the sauce but adds nice texture. Even though it only has one allspice berry, you will taste the flavor in the background.

This sauce would be good over seitan, tofu, or gnocchi. I put a little almond feta on a wasa cracker and drizzled this warm over the top of the "cheese" for a snack. This sauce is great with the almond feta.

If you have a meat eater in your house, this sauce would also be perfect over duck breast, on roast pork or chicken breast.

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