Weekend Cook: Making sweet dessert from sour rhubarb
RHUBARB is one of those foods that make you wonder who was the first person brave enough to eat it.
The leaves are highly toxic and the stalks are mouth-puckering sour unless cooked with lashings of sugar. However, rhubarb is full of vitamins C, K, and a lot of the Bs, potassium, calcium, fibre and more. Some of the benefits are offset by the sugar to make it edible, but it's still pretty good for you.
I used to poach it, but now I prefer to bake rhubarb. It retains its colour and the shape so it has more plate appeal. Try baking it with orange juice and cutting the sugar content by half. After a while your taste buds will become accustomed to the tartness.
Today's recipe combines the baked rhubarb with seasonal fruit to make a compote, suitable either for breakfast sprinkled with some muesli, or as a dessert topped by a dollop of yogurt, cream or ice cream.
Baked rhubarb compote:
INGREDIENTS: 3 oranges, 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed and divided, 1 bunch rhubarb with leaves removed, 1 punnet strawberries
METHOD: Preheat oven to 180C. Remove zest from two of the oranges and squeeze them for juice. Place zest, half a cup of the brown sugar and a cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to the boil and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
Cut rhubarb stalks into 2.5cm pieces. While zest is cooking, toss rhubarb with remaining sugar and orange juice. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 180C, then remove lid and bake for a further 5 minutes. Stir the rhubarb halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Wash, hull and slice strawberries and place in a bowl. Peel remaining orange and cut flesh into segments. Add to strawberries then stir through rhubarb, including the cooking liquid. Pour the zest and syrup over the top and serve.
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