april 25, 2014
One of the first edible harbingers of spring is rhubarb. And what a show! This perennial, a vegetable given the royal fruit treatment, rocks a shrub-like explosion of frilly lime green leaves and shiny stalks in various shades of red and green.
Some people enjoy their rhubarb raw, dipped in sugar and eaten out of hand, but most folks lucky enough to have made friends with rhubarb have tasted homemade rhubarb pie (or the springtime classic pairing in strawberry rhubarb pie), lending credence to rhubarb’s nickname, the pie plant. Rhubarb shows up in early spring and stays around long enough for buddying up to summer fruits like blueberries (see my blueberry rhubarb crisp) and peaches.
Spring menus for The Good Eats Company personal chef service list rhubarb in dessert form (fresh rhubarb cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting) and as a semi-savory accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats (currently rhubarb cherry chutney dallying with sesame parmesan crusted fish).
Today’s rhubarb recipe is a sweet compote (French for mixture and typically fruits stewed with a sugar syrup) that would be happy with ice cream as shown (see also smoky tea ice cream and strawberry balsamic gelato), on yogurt or granola, atop pancakes ( like my bacon buttermilk pancakes) or waffles or combined with a little acid like citrus or vinegar to fashion a quick chutney for grilled fish or meats.
You also have my permission to eat it with a spoon.
rhubarb apple compote
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 2 ¾ cups
one pound fresh rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed of leaves which are toxic, and cut into half inch dice
one large granny smith apple, peeled and cut into fine dice
½ cup sugar
¾ cup red wine (or dark red juice such as pure cranberry or pomegranate)
2 tablespoons finely minced candied ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients except vanilla in large nonreactive saucepan.
- Bring to vigorous boil, stir once, then simmer uncovered over low heat without stirring for 15-20 minutes; avoid stirring so that fruit remains chunky.
- Off heat, add vanilla and stir gently to combine, then allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, refrigerate in glass or stainless steel container at least 4 hours and preferably overnight to allow flavors to develop.
- Compote may be made one week ahead, and to avoid contamination, always use clean spoon for portion removal.
- Serve over ice cream, breakfast items like pancakes, waffles or granola or over slices of cake.
- To make a quick chutney for savory foods, add a dash of citrus or vinegar for a sweet and sour condiment.