Thursday, 17 March 2011

Quick Roast Rhubarb

Mmmm, the first rhubarb is out: tiny pink stems which cook very quickly and are full of vibrant astringent juices. I make the most of this season; by the time the first English berries are out, I'm sick of rhubarb, but it's glorious when the season starts. It matches perfectly the cool bright days of spring.

Crumble is a fairly classic way of preparing rhubarb, but it is much more effort and not something I tend to whip together midweek. Roasting the rhubarb, especially these gentle first stalks, retains the flavour and texture, without weighing it down with oats, cinnamon and butter. For two people for a midweek dessert, you'll need:

  • Five ~10inch-long thin stalks of rhubarb
  • 1 tbsp granulated or demerara sugar
  • Optional flavourings such as:
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, or
    • 2 blood oranges, segmented, or
    • 2 star anise, lightly pounded to break apart

Top and tail the rhubarb and slice into inch-long pieces. You can divide the fat end in two if it makes the pieces evenly-sized. Put in a pyrex baking tray: do not use metal, non-stick or even ceramic, as the rhubarb will react with these materials. Sprinkle over the granulated sugar and a flavouring if desired, and add just enough water to thinly cover the bottom of the dish.

Roast at 200 C for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb gives effortlessly when poked with a fork or knife. The water will have become a pink and delicious syrup. Remove the anise if used, and serve on yoghurt, with a little more sugar or honey to taste.

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