Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Potluck Recipe #17: Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote with Mint

Rhubarb is one of those mysterious plants that makes one wonder how folks ever figured out the stalk was edible … and how many early gastronomes perished in the process. We will never know, but use of the plant is allegedly rooted in medieval Arab, Chinese and European medicine; yes, for more than 5,000 years it has been used as a laxative.

Most of us, however, know it for the sweet-tart taste of its crimson stalks, which is delightful under a blanket of pastry and a deep scoop of ice cream — so delicious, in fact, that rhubarb is often called pie plant. And this time of year, it grows like a weed in yards all over the Midwest.

As we all know, rhubarb is traditionally combined with strawberries. In the recipe below, strawberries team up with the mint to offset not only the vegetable's powerful tartness, but also its rather gray, mushy presentation once cooked. We enjoy this compote over ice cream, hearty toast, oatmeal and muesli. It is also divine over a simple pound or angel food cake -- a perfect end to an Open Arms potluck.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote with Mint

(Servings vary according to use)

1.5 lbs. of rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp. of Meyer Lemon juice (one lemon)
2 lb. of strawberries
4 tbsp. of mint

1. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces.
2. Combine the rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and cook until rhubarb is tender and just beginning to fall apart, about 20 minutes.
3. In the meantime, cut strawberries into thick slices and set aside in the large bowl.
4. When the rhubarb is tender, gently stir it and any syrup into the strawberries.
5. Allow the compote to cool completely before adding the mint.

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