On Mother’s Day, we took a drive to visit my Mom and spent some time in her beautiful garden, full of perennials starting to come into their glory. Behind the enchanting blue garden shed that looks like a little English cottage is the vegetable garden and berry patch, and that’s where we found the rhubarb, just waiting for us to pick it. I cut off the stalks, trimming the elephant ear-sized leaves (they’re poisonous, by the way), and the Culinary Enthusiast and I toted home a nice bunch of the red and green stalks.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them: make a rhubarb compote, using a recipe that I found on the Plum Palate food blog recently (another beautiful site that I recommend to you!). The addition of honey, orange zest and vanilla gives this compote a delicate, almost floral orange flavour that subdues the tartness of the rhubarb. It’s still tangy, but with complex flavour undertones. The CE loved it!
If you look at the beautiful photos on Plum Palate, you’ll notice the compote there is much redder than mine, which is more strawberry blonde than redhead, so to speak. That’s because a lot of the rhubarb I used was more green-skinned than red. Next time I’ll try to make it with all red to achieve that stunning jewel-toned hue.
I cut the rest of the rhubarb up and put it in the freezer, just waiting for me to turn it into more compote or other treats (strawberry-rhubarb pie, perhaps?) when the fancy strikes.
So, what to do with rhubarb compote? I’ve used it as a topping for my oatmeal. I’ve broken myself of the habit of dousing oatmeal with brown sugar, so I usually have it with berries to add flavour. The compote certainly livened up my breakfast bowl the other morning! It would be great as a topping for ice cream. You could also use it in place of applesauce, with pork chops for instance. I’m mulling over adding it to muffins next.
And, finally, it also makes a great dessert for my charming granddaughter who recently graduated into toddlerhood. The first time I gave her a little bowl of this, I wasn’t sure how she would react. Not only did she spoon all of it out (with lots of gratifying “mmm’s”), but she even licked the bowl! Her Mum has been giving her a small bowl for dessert, and our little Miss loves every bite. Yesterday, she even dumped it on her head which, from her age group, is high praise indeed. Rhubarb as a toddler treat – who knew?
Rhubarb Compote with Orange Zest and Vanilla
Recipe from the Plum Palate blog, with slight adaptation
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1/4 cup honey
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
- zest of an orange
Place the rhubarb, honey and salt in a medium sized pot and let sit for about 30 minutes to extract the juices. Add the orange zest. If you’re using a vanilla bean, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds, and add them and the pod to the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 or 12 minutes, or until tender. You’re looking for an applesauce-like consistency. Remove the vanilla bean pod. If you’re using vanilla extract instead, stir it in now. The compote will thicken somewhat as it cools.
Enjoy, and let me know how you would use this lovely compote!