If you visited my garden at the moment, a glimpse of the rhubarb patch would reveal that my weeding is as shoddy as ever. It’s on my long mental ‘to-do’ list, honestly, but as always my priority has been to eat it.
Whether scoffed with vanilla yoghurt and home-made muesli for breakfast, served up in a fool for pud or in a very pink drink, rhubarb is never far away at present.
I recently spent a few lovely hours up a wildly wonderful hill near to Abergavenny and came home with a jar of sweet rose dukkah. A fragrant blend of dried rose petals, roasted Herefordshire cobnuts, pistachios, vanilla, cardamom and saffron, it pairs wonderfully with rhubarb. And adds a subtle sweetness that means you can avoid excess sugar in rhubarb puds such as crumble or rhubarb clafoutis.
Concocted by Liz Knight whose creative resourcefulness (she was tapping nearby birch trees for sap when I visited) I admire and wrote about here, sweet rose dukkah seems both exotic and redolent of her wonderful Welsh borders hillside. As Liz explained, its rugged beauty isn’t suited for any sort of farming other than sheep, so Merlin’s hill is never sprayed with pesticides. Leaving an abundance of wild ingredients for the picking.
Sweet rose dukkah can be sprinkled onto cakes or rolled into lamb to create a crust too. But for the moment, thanks to an abundance of the slender pink stemmed stuff, it’s partnering rhubarb in my kitchen.
My regular starting point with rhubarb is to make a sort of easy, bung it in the oven, compote:
Baked Rhubarb Compote
Chop 1 kg rhubarb into 5 cm-ish lengths, place in a baking tray or dish, squeeze over the juice of an orange and about 125g caster sugar (if you’ve got hold of sweet rose dukkah, you can reduce this according to taste) cover with foil and bake in a medium oven for 30 minutes or so until tender.
The beauty of making compote in the oven rather than in a pan for me is that it’s far easier to end up with rhubarb that still has some shape and colour, even if you forget about it. Whereas if you cook it in a pan, multi-task/let yourself be distracted for a few minutes and you have a shapeless mush.
Delicious simply with Greek yoghurt (add muesli or granola and you have a fab breakfast) this rhubarb can now be a starting point for many puds. Lovely in rhubarb custard, I also make a very easy rhubarb fool.
Take 4 heaped tablespoons of the rhubarb compote above and mash with a fork (I like some texture, but you can aim for more of a puree if preferred) then fold into 2 tablespoons vanilla yoghurt or Greek yoghurt and 1 tablespoon double cream.
Sweet rose dukkah is lovely sprinkled over rhubarb fool. You should also be left with some gloriously pink/amber syrup from the rhubarb compote dish.
Mine is reserved in the fridge, and may well be destined for fruity, rustic weekend cocktails.
The chunkier stems of rhubarb have been cooked slowly with a little water, heading for cordial:
I used the Jamie Oliver recipe here for cordial. It’s pleasingly simple but results in a pink tipple that’s as lovely with sparkling water as it is with Prosecco.
Angelica and Sweet Cicely are next on the list to be partnered with rhubarb (another way to reduce sugar) particularly as I can see their fresh new growth emerging amongst the herbs close to the kitchen door. And yes, they need weeding too…..
Thanks lots to Cristina Colli, who took the photos of Liz Knight foraging and who I spent a great day talking about food with – you can see more of her lovely photography and styling here.
And despite a meander up a wild hillside, as this post is mainly about my rhubarby kitchen, would love to share my kitchen (and hence have the excuse for some nosy peeps in other kitchens around the world) by joining in with Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial’s April In My Kitchen.
The rose dukkah sounds good – must try to find some. My rhubarb is doing it’s usual trick of producing a few stalks and lots of flowers… I wonder if there are any recipes using the flowers out there!
Still haven’t seen rhubarb flowers – very curious. Kale flowers at the moment though, very pretty although a bit odd on top of their tall, bald stalks – thanks to my enthusiastic winter picking.
If your rhubarb clump is flowering it can be a sign that it’s getting a bit elderly. Time to dig it up and split off some nice young bits of root with a growth point on to replant and start again. (Bit late to do it now though if it’s growing away – best wait till early next spring)
What a beautiful post, Andrea! Rhubarb is a favourite of mine!
Thanks Lizzy and me too.
Great post, very informative.
Thank you Cheri, glad my ramblings are possibly useful!
I am in rhubarb modus too Andrea, although I only have a small patch and it isn’t big enough to harvest yet. The markets keep me supplied though! I have often wondered which herbs would go with rhubarb. I can imagine angelica would be a nice addition.
This is the first year I’ve really picked this patch too and, previously relied on our local farmshops. Must try to stop myself picking the lot and give the plants chance too.
Sweet rose dukkah sounds absolutely divine.
It’s completely gorgeous, just the smell and look of it is wonderful.
Lovely post. I brought a huge amount of rhubarb back from the allotment today and just happen to have a jar of Liz’s Sweet Rose Dukkah. Thanks for all the ideas.
Thanks Evie, would love to hear how else you’ve been using Liz’s lovely rose dukkah. Hope you enjoy your rhubarb.
I adore rhubarb but now seldom get to eat it – one thing that really doesn’t travel well at all. Love all the ideas – the compote would be great with creamy vanilla custard.
Creamy vanilla custard and rhubarb definitely a match made in heaven – but then I’m a fan of any tart fruit and custard. Thanks Sally x
I have tons of rhubarb, it keeps on coming at the allotment. I like to eat it with yoghurt and a bit of muesli too and love adding some vanilla to it when making a compote. It really is better roasted, I don’t like it when it loses it’s shape and colour. I must make some jam too soon.
Adding vanilla to the compote is a great idea, will definitely try next time. Thanks Laura.
Such lovely pink gorgeousness! I love having rhubarb compote on hand – we once picked up a 5kg box of short stalks of rhubarb and cooked the whole lot down (on the stove, but your baked idea is brilliant, thank you) and froze it in portions for desserts. Lasted an entire season! The rose dukkah sounds amazing too!
You do have some wonders in your freezer Celia, great idea for the compote – will increase the quantity next time.
Snap! I had stewed rhubarb with yoghurt this morning. It was actually rhubarb that I had used to flavour a shrub. I usually use the discarded fruit in a chutney but had frozen the last batch for another use and so it turned out to be breakfast. And what a clever idea sweet dukkah is. It’s got my mind racing with possibilities. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for visiting Fiona and yes, sweet dukkah is a great idea isn’t it – the cardamom makes it really interesting. Hadn’t tried it until Liz proffered her jar, but very glad she did.
G’day! Love rhubarb and your rhubarb dukkah sounds delicious!
Thanks for this month’s kitchen view too!!
Thanks lots for visiting Joanne.