The brilliant pinkish-red hue of Spring rhubarb, while glorious and welcome, has somewhat taken me by surprise this year. It's a happy surprise and signals to some latent part of my brain that Spring has indeed arrived.
We just returned from a really lovely week over the mountains in Idaho, (where Spring comes a bit later) skiing and visiting family; the boys had their Spring break from school and no sooner had we arrived home than I realized everything had grown, bloomed and sprouted in the week we were gone. My ancient rhubarb plants had literally exploded from the ground. Tall, red stalks standing proud with their large green leaves waving in the wind. I was pretty giddy about the whole thing.
Rhubarb grows around here like a weed. There is really little if anything that needs to be done to it. It's the gift that keeps on giving and despite my sometimes black thumb and getting periodically trampled by Scout our 95 lb. German Shepherd, it thrives and grows larger and larger each year.
A real gardener, I am not, I just play pretend at it frankly, but I suppose I should do the real gardener thing and divide the plants. That would require foresight and planning though and decidedly those are not my strengths.
My strengths do however lie in the kitchen so I quickly cut a few stalks and headed inside to create this really easy and deliciously complex poached rhubarb. This recipe is a definite nod to my roots and reminds me a bit of my grandma's Fruktsuppe, a warm fruit soup we usually had for dessert when the rhubarb or berries were in season. In the winter she made fruit soup with dried apricots, plums and tapioca, and while good, I prefer the spring and summer versions more.
Cardamom and caraway, give this dish a layered, delicious flavor that will surprise you and make you wonder why you've never combined them before. Serve over thick, Greek Yogurt and top with sliced toasted almonds, you could serve this for dessert (vanilla ice cream would be amazing too) or for breakfast. Which is exactly what I did after I shot these photos. Perks of food blogging and all.
*** Special thanks to Red Envelope for the gift of the gorgeous red measuring spoons shown above. You can get your own here.
CARAWAY + CARDAMOM POACHED RHUBARB
1 lb. fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 4 inch pieces
4 T. sugar or sweetener of your choice
2 C. water
1/4 tsp. caraway seeds, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp. cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Place the rhubarb in a large skillet in one layer if possible. If not possible, poach the rhubarb in batches. Pour the water over the top, add the sugar and spices and simmer over very low heat. Do not allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil. Simmer the rhubarb until soft, about 3-4 minutes only if you want it to retain it's shape.
Remove the rhubarb from the poaching liquid carefully with tongs and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to reduce to 1/2 a cup. Serve along side the rhubarb and pour over the top, spices and toasted nuts when ready to serve. I prefer to eat the the rhubarb warm over yogurt with the sauce drizzled on top. Feel free to serve it cold if you wish.