Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Can we all agree to stop apologizing for rhubarb? No one apologizes for recipes that call for things like squid, marshmallow-flavored vodka, and green peppers. In fact, some times those things are actually celebrated rather than reviled. So I don’t know why rhubarb, the humble plant that springs to life after a long winter, is the recipient of occasional derision. But it’s time to stop.
I was wandering through a neglected garden in the countryside a few weeks ago, where not much was growing in the spring drizzle, except a few dewy tulips poking through. But right in the thick of things was a resplendent rhubarb plant, which saved the day. In the grand tradition of French “gleaning”, I yanked the stalks out of the ground, brought them home, and made a compote out of them. Free food? What’s not to like about that?
Rhubarb is quite tart and we had a plant in our neighborhood growing up, where we’d dip the raw stalks in sugar and munch on them as kids. Nowadays folks often ask me if they can reduce the sugar in things, including recipes, and you are more than welcome to here. Although just a head’s up that rhubarb does take more than you think, which is why I add some honey. It’s sweeter than sugar but adds a nice background flavor. You can use the smaller or larger amount, or adjust the sugar to your taste by using less than indicated, then adding more at the end.
Don’t like ginger? Try a cinnamon stick or two, some cloves and a few strips of lemon peel, or a few crushed allspice berries in the syrup instead.