Monday, June 22, 2009

Yay for Spring Veg: Vanilla Maple Rhubarb with Raspberries

I know. I know.
The equinox has come and gone, and it's "officially" summer. Heck, it's even gotten warm here in the Midwest. But... but... all the gorgeous spring veg are still lollygagging in the market. So, I'm going to keep writing about them. For maybe... another post or two.

I WILL spare you momentarily from ramblings about asparagus. But only because there is another spring vegetable that is NEVER neglected here at Burp! And that is the humble rhubarb.

I'll never forget the spring I discovered the joy of eating rhubarb stalks right from my mother's garden. The stalks themselves were almost intolerably sour -- but when bitten and dipped into a bowl of sweet sugar, I couldn't imagine anything better. The trick, of course, was talking my mother out of the bowl of sugar.

These days, we've cut back on processed sugars. But, that doesn't mean we don't enjoy our rhubarb in the springtime. In fact, it's one of our favorite sweet treats. Especially roasted.

Roasted, you say?
And I will confirm: yes, roasted.
If you ask me there's nary another way to prepare cooked rhubarb. And there are a number of reasons for that. For one, baking gets you a bit of caramelization. And we all know how a bit of caramelization really ups the flavor quotient. Secondly, roasting rhubarb is SUPER easy. You just throw it in a baking pan and let it bake.

Start off by preheating your oven to 350ºF. Save a few moments' time by putting two tablespoons of butter right into your roasting pan and putting it into the preheating oven. By the time the oven is preheated, your butter will be nice and melted. I told you this was easy!
Chop your rhubarb on the bias into 2 inch pieces. Toss them into a bowl with a split vanilla bean (or two).
Now pour some delicious maple syrup over the top -- somewhere between 1/3 - 1/2 cup.  There are no rules about grade here, but do use pure maple syrup, not one of its high fructose/corn syrup filled cousins.
Mix the rhubarb thoroughly to distribute the maple syrup and vanilla bean seeds. Then pour the mixture into your prepared pan.
Roast the rhubarb for 15-20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is just shy of being as tender as you'd like.

In addition to its other assets, roasting rhubarb also circumvents one of my primary complaints about cooked rhubarb -- mushiness. Roasted rhubarb is less apt to cook down into a puddle of rhubarb gush. It's toothier, and it holds a bit more shape. And how can you argue with that?
We think rhubarb and berries are a flavor combo made in heaven, so we like to add a few raspberries (or quartered strawberries) to the mix. Add them right when the rhubarb comes out of the oven.
Then, cover the rhubarb mixture with a piece of aluminum foil and allow everything to steep until it is cool. The delicate raspberries cook while the pan is covered -- but they don't turn to mush as they might if you included them in on the roasting time.
You can enjoy your maple vanilla rhubarb warm, at room temperature, or chilled. We served ours over a bit of locally churned sweet cream icecream with a sprinkling of vanilla granola.
Like a cobbler, but without all the fuss.

One of the best desserts ever. Seriously.

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23 comments:

  1. I've never tried roasting rhubarb but it sounds wonderful and looks beautiful dished up with the ice cream.

    Too bad it's too ghastly hot to run the oven at the moment!

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  2. This combination of rhubarb and raspberries looks great...with ice cream, even better. YUMMIE!

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  3. My mouth is seriously watering as I read this. What a creative and tasty way to serve rhubarb! Ive never heard of having it this way, but I bet it is incredible! I will be trying it soon!

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  4. That's a very original recipe. I don't think I've ever seen rhubarb prepared that way.

    When you talked about the intolerable sourness of the stalks, I was reminded of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book where Laura made a rhubarb pie and forgot the sugar. One of her dinner guests added a huge scoop of sugar to it right at the table and she was mortified.

    And, oh, I have to mention...HA HA HA HA HA HA You said RHUBARB!!!!!! HA HA HA HA!

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  5. This looks just divine with raspberries! Roasting it is a great idea.

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  6. Oh Lovely! Have you done this savory too? WIthout fruit, maybe warmer spices and roasted??

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  7. My weakness is rhubarb and blueberry custard pie. I haven't had the chance to make it since moving to the east coast. Now I'm going to hunt down some rhubarb and try your roasting technique then load it up with fresh Jersey blueberries and a dollop of custard.

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  8. Very creative -- and so visually appealing. The ice cream is the perfect touch. Sadly for us, rhubarb seems to be about done for in these parts -- very short-lived. So I'll eat my rhubarb vicariously now.

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  9. I missed it - Rhubarb! I've never tried before and my first spring as a foodie blogger I had ever intention of giving it a go but each visit to the grocery store left me empty handed! Now Mr produce man says I have to wait until next year! :(
    ~ingrid

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  10. Looks absolutely delicious. Rhubarb is very unappreciated in the food world. You can do so much more than just pie as your great recipe shows!

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  11. Ken -
    Have been contemplating a savory roasted rhubarb, yes. But, I haven't perfected it yet. (I'm cursing a bit that it's the end of the season) I'll let you know just as soon as I do...

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  12. What an excellent rhubarb recipe: superb!

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  13. That looks good! The maple, vanilla and rhubarb combo sound great as well.

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  14. You've got my mouth watering, babe!

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  15. ...and what's better than dessert without fuss?

    As far as we're concerned, spring only started with the warm weather last week. I hope winter considerately delays itself. Not likely, though.

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  16. That really does sound extremely good! I love all those red fruits - such pretty colors!

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  17. That shot of the rhubarb and vanilla beans with the syrup going on is so pretty. I saw Jamie Oliver do a similar vanilla-rhubarb compote for yogurt - yours takes it a step further and is just lovely. :)

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  18. Roasting! Brilliant! This is the first year for our tiny rhubarb patch, and I am really excited to try this with our Very First Harvest!

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  19. This looks awesome! I agree with you on using Grade B maple syrup. It tastes so much better.

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  20. complex and exciting flavors! GREG

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  21. I love the idea of roasting the rhubarb. I am definitely going to have to try that.

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  22. I love rhubarb, and this sounds fantastic!

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