When I was growing up in Minnesota, my parents had a garden and in the back was a big old rhubarb plant. It looked like a giant weed. I remember trying a bite of the greenish pink stalk raw from the cutting board as my mom chopped it for a dessert. UGH, was it tart and disgusting! But sweetened with sugar and nestled under an oat crumble topping, it was the stuff dreams are made of. That sweet tart flavor takes me right back to childhood, licking the sticky pink goo from my plate.
This year, we decided to start spring early with a rhubarb compote to top some waffles. True to form, I gave little Larson a greenish pink cube of raw rhubarb to chew on from the cutting board. His face crinkled up in confusion, but he kept chewing it all the same. But once sauteed with sugar into a hot pink compote, he was a definite fan. After we swirled a smear of it into his oatmeal, he was in heaven.
This recipe is supremely simple. We typically opt for natural sweetners like maple syrup, but here the sugar performs some chemistry to break down and thicken the rhubarb, so we decided not to mess with perfection. It’s pretty sweet, so a little of the stuff goes a long way. We served it over these waffles, but it would be perfect on pancakes or french toast. Leftover rhubarb compote is perfect to swirl into yogurt, oatmeal, or as a simple dessert, vanilla ice cream.
Here’s to the simple, seasonal pleasures: like rhubarb compote in the spring! And aside from the flavor, the vibrant hot pink color can’t be beat.
Recipe ideas for topping…
This recipe is…
This rhubarb compote is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and plant-based.
This hot pink sweet-tart rhubarb compote is as delicious as it is beautiful. Serve over waffles or pancakes, or swirl it into oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
2 cups rhubarb (10 ounces, about 4 large stalks)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chop the rhubarb into small cubes.
In a saucepan, stir together the rhubarb and the sugar over low heat. Once it starts to to bubble, cook for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is broken down and the juices have slightly thickened (exact timing depends on the size of the rhubarb and heat level).
Remove from the heat. Transfer to a ball jar and chill for at least an hour, which will thicken the juices even more. Store refrigerated for a few weeks. Serve over waffles, pancakes, or swirled into oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.