The Savory Side of Rhubarb

April 14, 2014


Slightly Spicy Rhubarb Compote

“$15 worth of rhubarb?” I asked the cashier at Fairway.  “Really?”

“Well,” she replied, “it’s $6.99 a pound.”

They had glowed at me, the long, thick ruby red stalks, in the gloom of the store. I’d gathered as many as I could hold.  I couldn’t help myself.  I kept thinking how delicious rhubarb would be with the ham I was about to cook.

I wasn’t sorry when I got it home; just looking at that bright red heap sitting on the counter made me happy.  I went to the refrigerator and peered in, wondering what kind of condiment I might make.

I had ginger.  I pulled that out. Capers!  They’d be a lovely counterpoint. Especially if I threw some raisins in as well.  And then, I thought, some red pepper flakes, for a bit of punch.  

I began by chopping an onion fairly fine, and softening it in a bit of grapeseed oil, along with two inches of fresh ginger that I’d chopped.  When that had turned soft and fragrant, I put the mixture in a bowl and set it aside.  

I added a couple cups of brown sugar to the empty pan, along with a cup of red wine vinegar, stirred it all up, brought it to a boil and let it cook for 5 minutes or so, until it was reduced by half. Then I added a cup of golden raisins, a couple tablespoons of rinsed capers, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.  I sliced the two pounds of rhubarb into half inch crescents, tossed them into the pan, gave it all a good stir, added the onion and ginger and cooked it for about ten minutes, until it had turned into a tasty, tender deep pink compote.

Served at room temperature it was fragrant, savory, slightly sweet and slightly spicy.  It was a wonderful addition to dinner. But I've just eaten some with cold slices of ham – and it's even better. 

I'm off to buy more rhubarb.  I really love this stuff. 



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