February 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
Rhubarb for sale means spring is coming soon! There’s even no snow on the ground, which creates the illusion that it’ll be warm soon, except by now I should really know better; it’s been known to snow here all the way through the middle of April.
But, before more snow, I think I’ll appreciate this lull in the cold and enjoy the first teaser of spring by making a rhubarb compote. I like compotes because they’re so versatile in general: this one can go from sitting alongside roasted pork to being swirled into one’s morning breakfast oatmeal, or can even be added to muffin batter.
Anyways, the compote itself is really easy to make, which is all the better for showing off what probably seems like quite an old-fashioned plant. I think rhubarb is one of those vegetables that tends to get overlooked, but it’s so visually stunning and even whimsical — a bit like a Seussian version of celery — I think perhaps its good looks can’t overcome a dearth of rhubarb recipes. Part of its relative obscurity probably results from it not being treated like a vegetable at all, but used in desserts quite frequently, as a sourish counterpoint to the sweetness that one expects.
Since I made a lot of compote, I’m hoping that I can freeze a jar of it, and maybe this afternoon whip up an exciting experiment with some too. Crossing my fingers that it will turn out well, but in the meantime I do hope that you’ll try rhubarb before its short growing season is over.
Makes about 24 oz. of compote
- One and three-quarters pounds of rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into one-centimeter-thick slices
- 2/3 to 3/4 cups sugar (depending on taste)
- Three tablespoons or so of water
- A small pinch of salt
1. Rinse rhubarb and slice. Add to a fairly deep saucepan along with sugar, water, and salt.
2. Cook rhubarb, sugar, salt, and water over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Once the liquid in the pan reaches a simmer, turn down the heat to medium and cook, stirring more frequently, until about half the rhubarb pieces have lost their shape and thickened, about five to ten more minutes. Taste for sour and sweet balance, adding more sugar if desired.
3. Let compote cool a bit before serving, and enjoy. Or, the compote can be cooled and served later, either at room temperature or even chilled.
Note: compote will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. It can also be frozen for up to three months, rather like a freezer jam.