Friday, May 31

Roasted Rhubarb

Roasted rhubarb with custard and crumbled vanilla cookies

When it comes to cooking methods, roasting is a great way to coax the best flavour and natural sweetness out of many vegetables and fruits. Rhubarb is no exception. In fact it could be argued -- with apologies to rhubarb lovers everywhere -- that this infamously tart stalk needs all the help it can get!

Rhubarb is wonderful in pies, cakes and jams, especially when paired with strawberries, apples or ginger, but it also stands well on it's own. Stewed rhubarb is a classic condiment or sauce and is dead simple to make. Simply cook rhubarb and sugar, with a bit of water to cover the bottom of the pan, until the rhubarb cooks down. You get pure rhubarb flavour to spoon over ice cream (my grandpa's favourite) or another sweet base.

The problem with stewing is you need to stir it. By the time the rhubarb is cooked, it's lost all body and structure and disintegrates into a soupy, well, stew. Some people think this is good (my grandpa, for one) but it's possible to have all that pure rhubarb flavour and keep some body and texture, too. This is where roasting comes in.

I can't promise that roasting will convert rhubarb haters to fans, but it will certainly bring out the best of this rosy stalk.

Roasted Rhubarb in Wine

Serves 4-6, depending on use

The key to this dish is to not stir the rhubarb after it has started to soften. Stir once after 15 minutes while it's still firm, then leave it alone. The sugar, wine and juices from the rhubarb will cook into a lovely syrup while the rhubarb softens but still holds its shape.
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut in 1 1/4 " pieces 
  • 1/4 cup white wine (fruity not oaky) 
  • Raw rhubarb with sugar and wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar (add 1 Tbsp more if your wine is quite dry) 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In an un-greased, 8" square glass or ceramic baking dish, mix together rhubarb, wine and sugar. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Return pan to oven and roast -- without stirring again -- until the rhubarb pieces are fork-tender and the edges are starting to caramelize, but there is still liquid in the pan, about 30 minutes longer.

The wine, sugar and juices will have cooked to a simple syrup which will thicken slightly as it cools.

Let the rhubarb cool undisturbed in the pan. Serve warm or chilled.
Roasted rhubarb

Variations:
  • Add an empty vanilla bean pod, cardamom pods, ginger root or orange peel in with the rhubarb at the start of cooking. 
  • Replace the white wine with blush or rosé wine for a pretty pink tone and an extra touch of sweetness. 
Serving Suggestions:
  • Spoon the warm or chilled rhubarb on ice cream, cheese cake, custard, pound cake, or shortcakes. Layer it in a parfait with strawberry yogurt and crumbled meringues. 
  • Mix it with strawberries and fill a pastry cup or a shortcake biscuit.
  • Use it as a condiment (along with caramelized onions) for roast pork or lamb burgers.
Rosy rhubarb!
Roasted rhubarb and strawberries with pastry and cream

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