This sauce does not taste exactly like tomato, but works well in recipes calling for tomato – sweet, tangy and rich red. In our climate these ingredients are in season year-round!
The recipe below is inspired by a Mexican mole. You may change the seasoning for other cuisines. For a Mediterranean pasta sauce, use olive oil instead of sunflower, and replace the spices with your favorite proportions of oregano, thyme and rosemary.
I use whole spices and grind them myself whenever possible.
Heavy-bottomed pot, dutch oven, wok or large skillet
5 medium red beets, sliced
10 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T sunflower oil
2 cups water
1 t ground cumin seeds
1 t ground peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, ground (or 1T cinnamon)
1/4 t ground coriander seed
1 mulatto chile, stem and seeds removed, ground, or 2 T ground chile
(1/2 c. cocoa powder + 2 T oil)
2 handfuls cilantro, chopped
2 t salt
Set burner on low to medium heat.
1. Warm sliced onion and oil together in pan. Saute until clear. Add garlic.
2. Add all dry spices (not cilantro). Saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add beets. Saute for 10 minutes.
4. Add rhubarb and water. Steam until rhubarb softens, then turn down heat and simmer until it is a sauce – about 30 minutes. Stir frequently. Depending on your pot, you may need to add more water if sauce becomes very thick but rhubarb is still chunky.
5. Now simmer your substrate in the sauce. Chicken is the most traditional substrate (and lard is the traditional fat). I have made this with potatoes, winter squash, or garbanzo beans. You may also store the sauce for later use.
6. Remove from heat. Add one handful of cilantro, stir. Taste and add salt if desired.
7. Serve with a bowl of more cilantro available as garnish.