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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