Some of the food I’ve been making on this cleanse feels very autumnal. Roasted acorn squash rings. Roasted sweet potato fries. Lentil soup.
I have been eating lots of salads, lots of asparagus, and lots of avocado too, so there’s definitely a healthy dose of spring on the menu. But I wouldn’t usually be roasting squash or making applesauce at this time of year.
This applesauce, however, is a perfect blend of spring and fall. I love rhubarb, and when I saw the beautiful red and green stalks appear at the market a few weeks ago I couldn’t resist them. But I usually use rhubarb in cakes or crumbles, and I haven’t been doing a lot of baking lately. So I tried to figure out how to cook with it as the stalks got limper and limper in my crisper.
I scoured the internet for “rhubarb no sugar” recipes and somewhere along the way, I got the idea to blend applesauce with stewed rhubarb. The apples act as a natural sweetener, and that’s pretty much all you need.
Thankfully, rhubarb is a hardy vegetable. It looked limp and defeated when I plucked it from the drawer, but after I chopped it up and stewed it down with some vanilla and spices, it fell apart beautifully.
I think the rhubarb makes ordinary applesauce a lot more interesting. It adds a tangy note, and the vanilla flavour really came through, especially in my first batch. You don’t need to stew it with anything but water, though, if you don’t have the other ingredients on hand.
This sauce was one of my treats for the first few weeks of this cleanse. Spooned into a bowl and topped with a shake of cinnamon and maybe a few sunflower seeds, it makes a great snack that I often craved more than a piece of fruit.
The last of the fall apples are still at the farmers’ markets, which makes this recipe almost completely local too. Always a bonus!
For a summery variation, I think this could also work with strawberries or raspberries instead of the rhubarb. And it would be delicious spooned over vanilla ice cream …
About 5 0r 6 apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into eighths
One bunch rhubarb
Half a vanilla bean
5 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
Honey or sugar (optional)
To make apple sauce, put apples in a heavy saucepan with about a ¼ inch of water in the bottom. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are soft enough to blend easily. If there is too much liquid left, leave the pot to sit off the heat for a few minutes and it will evaporate.
Blend the apples using a food processor or immersion blender. You could probably use a potato masher or a fork too for a chunkier sauce.
Meanwhile, chop the rhubarb into bite-sized pieces and put it into a heavy pot with just a splash of water. Add the half-vanilla bean, cloves and cardamom pods. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes until the rhubarb is soft and falling apart. Remove the seasonings, then blend with a fork.
Stir the two sauces together. When I made it I think I had about equal ratios between the two fruits, or more apples, maybe two-thirds to one-third. Taste for sweetness, and add honey or sugar if you think it is too sour.