Spring seems particularly beautiful and dramatic this year. Once again I am totally smitten with all of the blossoms. Spring also means the return of another favourite, rhubarb.
I was delighted, a little giddy even, to see the first rhubarb at the farmers market this weekend. I have seen it coming up in gardens around the city and when poking around my Grandma and Aunt’s garden on Gabriola Island over Easter. But alas I do not have the space to grow my own so I rely on the kindness of others to supply me with this Spring delight. If I visit at the right time my parents or Grandma will send me home with some which is always a treat.
Thankfully Yolanda and Brian grow beautiful rhubarb at Shalefield Farm and brought the first picking to the market on Saturday. I asked if they knew which variety it was but they were unsure. What Brian did know is that he got the rootstock from a Mr Reinhart in 1973 from his backyard. I love it. I find rhubarb often has a story like this. It is handed down by friends, neighbours or family for generations. A friend of mine has a rhubarb plant that has been in her family for over 100 years. So special.
The first rhubarb of the season usually gets a simple treatment in my kitchen. Often a compote of some kind or crumble.
This year I thought I would try roasting it instead and it was really lovely. I liked the way it held its shape and colour. I wanted to let the flavour of the rhubarb shine so I kept things simple. I added a little fresh orange juice, some local wildflower honey, a vanilla bean and inspired by a tart that Aran at Canelle et Vanille was making a splash of orange blossom water for a twist. You could certainly add in a few strawberries too.
The aroma coming from the oven was sweet and heavenly.
The roasted rhubarb can be used as you would a compote. It would be very pretty served on top of pavlova or shortcake. Last night we enjoyed it with some thick plain yogurt, lightly toasted pistachios and with a drizzle of the pink syrup on top. Simply delicious.
- 1 pound (450g) rhubarb, washed and sliced into 2 inch pieces (pinky sized pieces)
- juice of half a large orange (about 2 Tbsp)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- optional: 1 tsp orange blossom water
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Toss the sliced rhubarb with the orange juice, honey, vanilla seeds and pod and orange blossom water (if using). Spread out the rhubarb in a baking dish or on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake until the rhubarb is tender and the juices have thickened, about 15 minutes. The time will vary a bit depending on the thickness of the stalks of rhubarb.
- Let cool. Serve with thick plain yogurt and a few chopped pistachios. Drizzle with the syrup from the pan.