Rhubarb, the vegetable we treat as a fruit. I saw some today at the farmer’s market for the first time this year and instantly decided to make a compote. Earthy, sour, sweet – it’s difficult to describe the flavor of rhubarb to someone who’s never tasted it. I added vanilla to the compote today for the first time, a common ingredient duo. Aromatic and almost spicy, it was a stunning addition. Try it.
As is often the case with rhubarb, it turned out tasting almost too much of itself. By which I mean it was a little bit too sweet and a little bit too tart at the same time, if that’s possible. But I don’t think that detracts from the taste, rather it keeps you on your toes, rolling around all the varied sensations happening in your mouth all at once. All of which is to say, sweeten to taste. I added the sweetener (agave, in this case, but sugar, honey or maple syrup would all be fine) after I’d finished cooking the rhubarb so I could taste the compote as I went along – adding a little bit, then taking a taste, until it reached the level of sweetness I preferred. Of course, making it in combination with strawberries would change everything (strawberries + rhubarb = another classic combination). As would sweetening the cream, if you’re using it.
However you prepare it, have some rhubarb while it’s here.
1 lb. rhubarb, approx. 6 long stalks (remove all leaves, as they are poisonous)
1/2 cup water
10 Tablespoons agave (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 Tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Wash rhubarb. Trim off all leaves and chop into 1/2″ pieces. Put in a medium sized pot with water. Cook over medium-high heat 5-10 minutes, until rhubarb is soft and breaks down. Turn off heat and add sweetener. Taste and adjust sweetening as needed. Add vanilla extract. Stir. Cool. Serve with a splash of heavy cream, if desired.
Store any extra in a covered container in the refrigerator.