Wednesday, April 14, 2010

roasted rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of spring's greatest treats. It might not look like much more than a pink stalk of celery, but when cooked up properly (ie: with a lot of sugar), rhubarb's flavor is so bright and tart-sweet, it jolts your senses out of the winter doldrums.

Usually, I stew rhubarb with strawberries to make fruit crumbles or parfaits. But upon seeing Molly of Orangette's recipe for roasted rhubarb with wine and vanilla, I decided to keep the strawberries out of it this time around. I mean, wine and vanilla? Yes, please.

As it sounds, this is a very elegant way to treat a humble vegetable. You cut the stalks into chunky pieces, then let them bathe in a mixture of sugar, wine, and vanilla until, as Molly aptly writes, it "slumps juicily on the end of a fork." Molly's recipe calls for a crisp white wine. But when I went to my local wine shop, a blushing bottle of rosé caught my eye. Good rosé is as crisp as a dry white wine, but often has flavors of strawberries, cherries, and peaches. Which, in my mind, sounded like an even better match for the rhubarb.

And it was. Not to knock the great Orangette, but use rosé for this recipe. The wine brought out the fruitiness of the rhubarb and played really well with the vanilla. It's incredibly subtle--the wine completely burns off during cooking and creates this thick, vanilla-flecked, ruby sauce that I couldn't stop slurping up with a spoon. The longer you let the fruit sit and cool, the richer the sauce becomes.

We ate the rhubarb simply with some ricotta dressed up with a bit of sugar and lemon zest. It tasted as pure and bright as spring itself.

Roasted rhubarb
Via Orangette; inspired by Canal House Cooking, Volume 3
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
½ cup sugar
½ cup rosé wine (or crisp white wine)
1 vanilla bean, split

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven or other deep, oven-safe pot. Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean, and stir to mix. Bake (uncovered) for about 30 minutes, or until very tender, giving the pot a gentle stir about midway through to ensure that the rhubarb cooks evenly. Serve with ricotta, Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, cake, or by itself.


Anonymous said...

Rose instead. Sounds nice.
What do you think about using mascarpone cheese?
A little dab'll do ya.

Lisa said...

Anony: Yes, that's a brilliant idea. Go easy on it, though. Or maybe some softly whipped cream?

Unknown said...

Love, love, love rhubarb. Thanks for another way to try it.

Daniel said...

Amazing what you can do with a few ingredients. Who needs rhubarb pie?

Lisa said...

Tender Branson: Thanks for reading! (And Molly for the recipe...)

Daniel: Seriously. Any time I can get out of making pie crust.

kelly said...

i am totally going to make this when i see that first stalk of rhubarb at the market! this sounds so dreamy!

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Doin' it tonight to eat with the Lee Bros.' buttermilk pound cake. Our pink azaleas and bleeding hearts are blooming in the backyard, so why shouldn't the food match the scenery?

Lisa said...

Casey: That is so springy, I can hardly handle it!


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