I go in waves of meal planning. I suppose we all do? However, meal planning in the summer gets a bit easier and that’s because it begins with whatever produce is in my CSA box (find a CSA farm near you). Every week, I open that box and instantly start planning from what I find inside. For me, it’s incredibly freeing!
Today was a VERY special day, a VERY happy day as I picked up my first box of the season. My kids even got excited jumping into the car saying, “Let’s go get our farm box!” Once we all got into the store, sorting out the kid cart situation first of course, we made our way over to the tower of brown boxes. I picked up the top one and as I held it in my arms, I instantly felt a flurry inside. I was beyond excited to see what the box contained. And, yes, this was the first box of the season, but to be real, I feel this flurry each and every week of the summer. Even though I can get everything in that box on nearly any given day at the grocery store, it is special to me that it came from a local farmer who believes in treating this earth with care. (Side note: getting anything we can possibly want nearly any time of the year is super convenient and also super unnatural … to be a bit of a downer.)
So, anyway, I
tore casually opened the box in the store because I couldn’t wait until I got to the car. It contained beautiful collard greens, spinach, lettuce and basil, but what really caught my eye was the asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb. Asparagus and rhubarb are some of the earliest vegetables to harvest. (Did you know asparagus is actually a perennial plant?!) And seeing them in my box reminded me that even though the rest of the country may be saying good-bye to their springtime harvests, here in Minnesota, we’re still hauling in those classic early bloomers … or sprouters rather.
From the box, I instantly decided to make a strawberry rhubarb jam with chia seeds. I have really enjoyed making homemade fruit jams with chia over the past few years. They are a wonderful replacement for pectin in traditional jams and are incredibly more nutrient dense – full of omega-3s. Plus, pectin can be made from corn, which is fine for some, but others need to avoid. Beyond the chia seeds nutritional value, this jam takes all of 15 active minutes to make – EASY!
You’ll see in the recipe that I’ve added more strawberries than rhubarb. I prefer to do this to cut down on the amount of added sugar. AND this jam isn’t overly sweet, but it’s easy to adjust to your liking.
When you’re cooking down the rhubarb and strawberries, do so minimally. Cooking them longer will not only result in less jam (you’re boiling off a bit) but, in my opinion, food should be cooked just enough. And since, in this recipe, you won’t need to be mashing the fruit and veggie mixture, but blending it, the fruit doesn’t need to be super duper soft.
Optional add-in: if you have any extra orange around your home, a little fresh-squeezed orange juice or zest would be a yummy addition. Go easy though!
Hope you enjoy!
xo ~ Mandy
- 2 cups rhubarb, roughly chopped into ½" pieces (chop before measuring)
- 3 cups strawberries, roughly chopped into quarters (chop before measuring)
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (can substitute ½ vanilla bean)
- 3-4 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
- Place strawberries, rhubarb and ½ cup water in a small pot over low heat. Keeping at a very low simmer, cook until vegetables and fruit are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to a blender and carefully blend until smooth. (May need to do this in batches depending on blender size.)
- Pour mixture back into pot and stir in chia seeds, vanilla extract, and honey. Allow mixture to cool, about 30 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and consistency. If you prefer it thicker, add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. If you prefer it thinner, add ¼ cup water. If you prefer it sweeter, add a little more honey.
- Transfer to mason jars and refrigerate.
- Keeps in fridge for about a week.