springiest dessert: roasted rhubarb

Rhubarb doesn’t have quite the urgently brief feeling season of, say, ramps, but this recipe still makes me want to shout…quick! quick! make this instantly! Seeing bright pink stalks of rhubarb sticking out of a produce bin at the grocery stores is such a nice solid indicator of spring, isn’t it? The tart with a touch of sweet veggie (I had to look that up, by the way–vegetables for dessert!) feels like the perfect bridge between the weather we are so over and the weather we’re so looking forward to. And in that springtime spirit, even though I had been planning on something chocolatey or cakey to top off a recent graduation celebration for my sweet friend Sarah, rhubarb kept calling my name.

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So much so that even on the day of the dinner as I was writing down a shopping list with the ingredients for my favorite chocolate cake, I was still thinking rhubarb. Maybe a compote, something I could put over vanilla ice cream. On the hunt for the perfect recipe I did some googling, and had to laugh when I found just exactly what I was looking for: a Dorie Greenspan blog post titled, “Roasted Rhubarb, So Good Over Ice Cream.” Well! There are signs, and then there are signs. I shelved the cake for another day, and went off in search of rhubarb. And vanilla ice cream–Häagenn Dazs makes some of the best vanilla out there, in my humble–and my fave store bought chocolate chip cookies, to add a little necessary crunch.

IMG_8174This recipe is fantastically easy, and makes the house smell gorgeous. Rhubarb is cleaned and sliced up–I like it on a spiffy diagonal, even though it mostly loses it’s shape during cooking–then tossed with a scant half cup of sugar and the zest of a lemon. After a few minutes of resting a syrup starts to form, and the whole thing gets covered with foil and roasted. If you stick to the times listed below, or even go a little shorter, the rhubarb should hold its shape at least somewhat. I let it go a little longer, with a nice smushy almost jam like result. Either way, it’s delicious. Simple, just sweet enough, and oh so springtime.

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roasted rhubarb

from Dorie Greenspan’s lovely website

ingredients
1 pound rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

instructions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with a rack in the center.

Cut the rhubarb into pieces about 2 inches long and toss them into a baking dish that will hold them comfortably. Sprinkle on the sugar and zest, and stir everything around until the rhubarb is covered with sugar. Set aside for about 5 minutes, or just long enough for a little syrup to start to form.

Cover the baking dish with foil and roast for 15 minutes. Take a peek and if the sugar isn’t almost completely melted, stir the rhubarb–if stirring doesn’t instantly melt the sugar, re-cover the pan with the foil and roast a few minutes more. Now remove the foil and let the rhubarb roast for another 5 minutes or so, until the syrup is bubbling.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the rhubarb cool to just warm or to room temperature; chill, if you’d like. Well packed, the rhubarb can stay in the fridge for 3 days.

Spoon over ice cream–I made mine well before dinner and reheated it at dessert time. Save the leftovers for topping yogurt (or just more ice cream). Straining the leftovers through a fine sieve also gives you a wonderfully tasty and beautifully pale pink liquid to add to soda or tonic.

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