Only for a short while we have the pleasure of rhubarb enriching our palates. It used to be my grand dad’s summer highlight and soon after trying my first ever warm rhubarb compote with vanilla ice cream, it became mine too. Every year I look forward to the season.
Did you know that rhubarb actually is a vegetable? I was surprised at that too, especially as we mostly have it as a compote or in cakes and puddings. Personally I love to combine rhubarb and strawberries with fresh vanilla – these three are such a great match. The sweetness of the strawberries makes up for the sour edge of the rhubarb and the vanilla adds a note of softness. All these flavours are complimented by the subtle crunch of the crumble, as you will find when you try it. Just d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! I used fibre rich dates, dried apples and apricots as a main sugar alternative, which worked a treat.
Rhubarb has some nutritional highlights and health benefits too. It is rich in vitamin C and K, delivers a good amount of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron and a lot of good fiber. Unfortunately most of the vitamin C is destroyed during the cooking process but the minerals are not affected, that way potassium can do its job to support the body’s fluid balance and the fibre helps to keep the gut working smoothly. The amount of calcium found in rhubarb is outstanding, which makes it a good choice for those on a dairy free diet and anyone looking for additional foods to contribute to their calcium intake .
A word to oxalic acid, which is found in toxic amounts in the leaves and in tolerable amounts in the stalks. Oxalic acid may worsen arthritis and favour the build-up of kidney stones, so it is not recommended for people who are prone to them. The oxalic acid load is lowest in the young and tender rhubarb stalks at the beginning of the season. Furthermore, oxalic acid may react with tin foil or aluminium cooking pots, so the use of these should be avoided when preparing rhubarb. It is important to note that small children and pregnant women are advised to avoid rhubarb altogether.
Before getting to the ingredient list and cooking instructions, here a little tip for buying rhubarb. Please make sure you buy fresh and firm stalks, you want them to be shiny and have a bright red and pale green colour. When getting home wrap the rhubarb in damp kitchen towels and store in the fridge. Ideally use within a couple of days. If you would like to save some for later in the year, simply cut into smaller pieces and freeze raw. That way you can extend the season until well into December 🙂
Ingredients: Serves 2-3
500g fresh rhubarb – washed and sliced
150g fresh strawberries- washed and quartered
10 dates – roughly chopped
4 dried apricots – roughly chopped
10 dried apple rings- roughly chopped
1 tsp honey or molasses
1 vanilla pod
600 ml water
For the crumble:
1 cup of almonds
1/2 cup dried apple slices
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1. First wash the rhubarb, cut off the dry ends and any marks it may show. Then slice it into 1cm slices. During the process you will find that some the skin comes off, please set aside as it can be used for making the sweet compote, which will be the base the rhubarb will be cooked in at the end. Wash the strawberries, remove the little green tops, cut into quarters and set aside.
2. Next, prepare the dried fruit and vanilla pod. Roughly chop the dried fruit and place in a tall but small pot. Cut the vanilla pod in half, scrape out the seeds and add both to the dried fruit. Add in any red peel you have from preparing the rhubarb, plus a hand full of rhubarb and strawberry pieces. Cover everything with 600ml fresh water and simmer at medium heat for approximately 25 minutes. Add a little water if needed.
3. Once every is well cooked and soft, take off the heat, and stir in the honey . Take out the vanilla pod and then, using a hand blender, blend until smooth. Be careful when blending the mix as it is piping hot. Tilting the pot helps to accumulate the liquid on one side of the pot.
4. Now, add the rest of the rhubarb, the 3/4 strawberries and the vanilla pod to the blended stew and cook over medium heat for another 20-25 minutes. To avoid burning the mix, keep stirring with a wooden spoon, as you will only have very little liquid from the stew at the beginning. However, the rhubarb will release a quite a bit of water during the cooking process, so please do not add any extra water, otherwise it will turn too liquid. Please keep an eye on the rhubarb and stir quite frequently until it’s done.
5. Preheat the oven at 180C.
6. To make the crumble, simply place the dry ingredients in a blender and blend until you get a coarse texture. Then add in the coconut oil and blitz a few more times. You want to get quite a crumbly texture. You can work the mix with your hands afterwards if you prefer more chunky crumbles.
7. Next take a quiche dish or small soufflé forms and fill them with the cooked rhubarb, leaving 1 cm space at the top. Then take the remaining strawberries (1/4) cut them into slices and arrange them on top, before covering everything with the crumble. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve as is or with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy !