Rhubarb is such a welcome harbinger of spring — its bright red stalks brightening up early spring days. The last house I lived in had a huge rhubarb patch and the previous owner sent me handwritten recipes for all her favorite rhubarb dishes. I tried all kinds of cakes and jams, but never really made a simple compote. Last weekend I decided to try my hand at one but couldn't decide what flavors to mix. Ginger? Vanilla? Orange? I decided to make two batches — one with everything and one with just orange. I also tried two different cooking techniques.
I roasted the first batch in the oven with everything but the kitchen sink: ginger, vanilla, orange and lemon.
Roasted Rhubarb Compote
Juice of 1 1/2 medium oranges
Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 1/2 to 2 cups rhubarb
Zest from 1 medium orange
Combine the orange and lemon juices in a saucepan and add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into the pan and add the ginger. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup.
Place rhubarb in an 8x8 glass baking dish and pour syrup over. Toss to coat. Cover with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes more.
This one is okay, although still very tart. I might up the sugar next time, reduce the ginger and leave out the lemon. Hmm… on to number two.
The second method lets the rhubarb cook slowly in its own juices.
Simple Rhubarb Compote
3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tb orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
3 Tb freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Combine all in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes.
I much preferred the taste of this method — especially without the ginger. Try it over greek yogurt with a little granola sprinkled on top. I even tried to make my own yogurt this past weekend, but it didn't work out so well. (It's still on my kitchen counter, not thickening!) I'll keep you posted on my progress with that one!