Honey and Vanilla Roasted Rhubarb

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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.

Honey and Vanilla Roasted Rhubarb

Author: Lindsey Bell

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  15 mins

Total time:  25 mins

Serves: 2-4

Delicious on oatmeal, granola, or with thick yogurt and pistachios for a light dessert. It would also be very tasty as a topping for pavlova or shortcake. A few strawberries thrown in to roast with the rhubarb would also be nice.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Let cool. Serve with thick plain yogurt and a few chopped pistachios. Drizzle with the syrup from the pan.
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