Look outside. You see the start of green shoots on the trees, the occasional crocus and a few daffodils starting to peek out from the earth. Is Spring here? Maybe, but rhubarb most certainly is. Those vivid red stalks are a real sign that sunny days are on the way. And to badly misquote Kay Thompson in the Audrey Hepburn classic Funny Face, when faced with what can still be a rather drab time of year, Think Pink!
Mention rhubarb, and some wag usually sucks their teeth, and makes the a pronouncement along the lines of well, you know that it’s actually a vegetable. All well and good – tomatoes are fruit, bananas are berries and peanuts are legumes, so that doesn’t really bother me so much.
What does matter is how you cook rhubarb. Anyone who grew up in the UK would have memories from school of this fruit (ha!) boiled until it was reduced to a stringy, gloopy, grey-green pulp. Well, today’s recipe is nothing more than a way of preparing rhubarb that means you can forget the nightmares of childhood, and instead preserve the vibrant pinkness of the stalks and avoid the “stringy bits”. Sold yet?
Now, you might we wondering why on earth would I be looking to roast rhubarb? I know this sounds like an odd technique, and that poaching is more common. However, if you are cooking in water, you still run the risk of ending up with stringy gloop. Not by roasting though – it really is dead simple. Drench the rhubarb in sugar, cover, and bake in the oven until the rhubarb is pink and tender.
Like magic, the sugar has vanished, the colour is superb and you have a little bit of rich syrup at the bottom of the dish. Perfect to add to muesli, on ice-cream or to fill a rhubarb tart. All this, and you preserve the bright Barbie-pink colour, which might – might – even get kids to eat the stuff. Can’t be bad? And if you’re feeling fancy, use some of that syrup to make a Spring cocktail.
Just a note on quantities – you would want to use no more than about one-quarter the amount of sugar to rhubarb, but if you prefer to showcase the tartness of the fruit (ha!), feel free to use less sugar.
To make baked rhubarb:
• pink rhubarb
• white sugar (1/4 the weight of the rhubarb)
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Clean the rhubarb stalks. Cut off the ends, slice into 1 inch /2-3 cm chunks. Place in a glass baking dish, and cover with the sugar.
Loosely cover the dish with foil but make sure it does not touch the rhubarb (rhubarb + foil = trouble)! Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is just starting to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Worth making? Forget green, mushy rhubarb – cooking this way will keep the vivid pink colour of the fruit and makes it a great addition to yoghurt, custard or on ice-cream.
10 responses to “Think Pink! Roasted Rhubarb”
Wonderfully simple! I also had bland, stringy rhubarb as a child and it took some coaxing for me to reconsider it – usually hidden in strawberry pies and mixed into smoothies. I’m going to give this recipe a try, thanks.
Oh! I really hope I’ve converted you over to this way of cooking. You can, of course, just try it with a little first, but it’s amazing how different it tastes. Pink and sharp and sweet all in one go. Let me know how it works out.
This is so simple and I felt so tempting to try. It does look really amazing 🙂
Thanks! I like the colour – I like how bright it is.
Oh goody – rhubarb time again. One of my favourites. I love it with yoghurt as a compote combined with orange or, a bit later in the season, raspberry (and sometimes a splash of rose syrup). Thanks for the reminder to look out for it again!
‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’
Glad you like it. I’m a purist – I like it sharp and tangy on its own, but I might try combining with a few other flavours this year. A little orange zest sounds like a particularly nice idea.
I would be a purist too – sometimes – but I have a family to feed who need something a little less sharp! Ginger is good with rhubarb too: rhubarb/ginger/orange works very well.
I have to agree with you on the baking method, certainly the best way but sometimes I am a bit lazy to put the oven on or it is far to warm to crank up in our open plan kitchen living space.
Ha! I wish it were the case here – about three degrees and still struggling to keep warm.
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