Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rhubarb Ginger Compote

Rhubarb - an ingredient known far and wide, and yet when asked exactly what it is, many are hard pressed to provide an answer outside how delicious it is with strawberries in a pie.  A plant similar in appearance to a cross between Swiss chard and celery with a canopy of large triangular leaves, it is a beautiful herbaceous perennial known for its fibrous stalks and trademark mouth-puckering tartness.  While the crimson variety is best known, rhubarb can range in color from pale green to yellow to a speckled pink.  First appearing in Spring, weather permitting, its growing season can continue throughout the Summer and even into the Fall, allowing this common and yet exotic ingredient to find its way into desserts, mason jars, roasting pans, and happy tummies for a good part of the year.

And while it is a fact that rhubarb pairs beautifully with the smooth sweetness of strawberries, it also stands up nicely on its own.  So today's recipe seeks to highlight that, bringing the zing of ginger into the mellow sweet-tartness of pink rhubarb and creating a spreadable wonder that truly speaks the language of Summer.

Rhubarb Ginger Compote
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: at least 2 hours for cooling
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield:  about 1 1/2 cups

2 c rhubarb, chopped
1/2 c coconut sugar
1 tablespoon chopped stem ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

What you'll need:  medium saucepan with lid, small glass container/mason jar

1.  Combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat.  You may not think there's enough liquid, but once the crisp rhubarb begins to cook down, all will be well.  
2.  Once rhubarb begins to soften and the sugar has dissolved, cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.  The bright pink color of the rhubarb will mellow into a pale, creamy pink as the rhubarb breaks down and you will notice tiny fibers throughout the mixture.  Feel free to encourage the breaking down by mashing the rhubarb and ginger with a cooking spoon.
3.  Remove from heat, transfer to a glass container/mason jar and allow to cool.  Once close to room temperature, transfer to refrigerator to chill.  Can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

I love the colors.

Warming up and beginning to come together.

After simmering for about 9 minutes - creamy and delicious.

Served with shortcakes, over ice cream, layered into a trifle, spread onto toast, spooned into a smoothie, or as a sweet-tart accompaniment to savory roasted or grilled vegetables, the delicious ways in which this compote can be enjoyed are pretty endless.

In concocting this recipe, I have cleared some of the mystique for myself surrounding rhubarb and won't be such a deer in headlights next time someone asks me what it is.  Hopefully, you will feel the same, even if it is just to say that rhubarb is delicious - with or without pie crust, strawberries, and whipped cream.

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