Often the first vegetable to pop up in the spring, rhubarb is one of my favorites.
While I love it in pie my new favorite way of using rhubarb is making compote. Compote is french for “mixture” and is basically just a stewed fruit dish. Rhubarb makes a beautiful compote.
Compote is also a great way to prepare rhubarb for canning so it can be enjoyed in the winter. The version I am making is sweet but a savory variety is fabulous with roast pork.
- 1 cup rhubarb – diced finely and freshly picked from your garden if possible!
- 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
- 1/4 cup liquid – water is fine, a clear juice would work as well
- 1 tbsp ginger – diced finely
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 vanilla bean pod – scraped out is fine (see notes below)
- Rhubarb leaves are poisonous so they should be removed and discarded as you pick it. The rhubarb stalks should then be washed well to remove any dirt, oil/grease and diced finely. The easiest way to dice rhubarb is to split it several times lengthwise (depending on the thickness of the stalk) and then to cut across the lengths.
- Add diced rhubarb to a non-reactive pot (it’s quite acidic) and then add your sugar, liquid, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla bean pod. Everything can be adjusted according to taste. The liquid facilitates the cooking down and softening of the rhubarb so add more if your compote seems to be drying out. As it cooks down, taste your compote. Add more sugar if you feel it needs it. I tend to like my food not-too-sweet so make sure the compote tastes good according to your tastes.
- Once the compote is cooked down, remove the vanilla bean. The compote is now ready for eating or for canning.
- I chilled my compote and then ate it over dark chocolate pudding and it was outstanding. It would also be wonderful over mousse.
- A rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream topped with a scoop of warm compote could possibly make your guests swoon or your family insist that you make rhubarb compote every day.
- I also love compote on porridge in the morning! Some diced apple would make it extra wonderful.
- Many recipes call for the tiny seeds inside the vanilla pod but don’t use the pod itself. Well there is only so much vanilla sugar a person can make. This recipe is great to extract all the flavour out of your leftover vanilla pod.
- A vanilla bean is the fruit of an orchid. I think it is the most sensual spice.
- To make the rhubarb compote savory just start thinking like a chutney. Chunks of lemon peel (preserved works), garlic, thyme, black pepper, coriander seed… You get the idea. With chutney I like the texture to be a bit chunkier so I would add some large dice apples at the end and cook them long enough to soften but not disintegrate.
- To my girlfriend Marla with her wonderful partner Leevon and their new baby Joni for the delicious rhubarb from their garden in Courtney, BC.