Sweet & Sour Rhubarb Compote (Paleo, AIP)
Did you know that rhubarb is an aphrodisiac? Don’t tell the Lutherans (I’m Lutheran by baptism, for the record), but it is, and it likely explains why we all go gaga for the stuff. In fact, I have a theory that anything that captures Pinterest’s collective imagination is an aphrodisiac.
Yes, that means we are all cheap dates, ha!
Pumpkin? Check. (Actually, it’s pumpkin spice, but aren’t the most swooned over recipes – aka lattes – made with pumpkin spice?) Chocolate? Obviously. Strawberries? Duh. Anything creamy/gooey/cheesy? Calling FREUD!
And rhubarb, dear not-one-bit sweet rhubarb. I swear that I had the idea for this post before it dawned on me that rhubarb stirred my soul more than other delicious foods. In fact, I can take no credit at all for this lovely idea, it’s via my friend Scott Pampuch, executive chef at the University of Minnesota. We donated a dinner to the Children’s Heartlink silent auction and had the pleasure of making dinner in the home of the LOVELIEST, most fun couple and their group of friends. My son Nathan helped out too, clearing and washing dishes and being his gracious self. (I lucked out in the child category, times about 1 million.) I always learn something when I cook with Scott, who is so used to cooking for literally hundreds of people that a dinner for eight people is like a sneeze to him. Humbling, instructive, and a BLAST. Isn’t that any home cook’s perfect evening?
Scott came up with this seemingly simple and gorgeous dessert (phone pic, sorry) of a smear of mascarpone cheese + this rhubarb compote + an obscenely ripe Turkish fig (talk about aphrodisiac!) + a truly decadent sunflower toffee from Seward Co-op + polenta that he scooped out of the main course pan, coated in butter, and roasted until crunchy. Uh yeah. It hit alllllll the notes: creamy, crunchy, sticky, salty, sweet, tart. Definitely do all of those things if you’re planning for guests.
Or, make the compote and swirl it over coconut yogurt (AIP), or whole milk grass fed cow/sheep/goat yogurt (I’m reintroducing some high-quality dairy and fingers crossed, friends, it seems to be going pretty damn well), or go for that gorgeous mascarpone cheese and a ripe fig situation.
Or even spoon it over halibut or shrimp or chicken – it works, I promise, especially if you sub tarragon for the thyme.
And/or strain some of the steeping liquid and treat it like a shrub and add to sparkling water or wine or vodka or gin. Do it. Do it all. This is the kind of recipe that I love – a real multi-tasker.
Scott Pampuch, Executive Chef, University of Minnesota
Makes about 3 cups
1 cup water
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups finely diced rhubarb (1/4 inch)
1 teaspoon lemon thyme, thyme, tarragon, or mint leaves (your preference)
In a large saucepan, bring water, vinegar, and maple syrup to a boil over high heat. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until starting to be a bit syrup-y. Stir in rhubarb and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes and stir in herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cover and chill in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.