Rhubarb, Mint, & Vanilla Bean Compote

Rhubarb, mint, and vanilla bean compoteAs I’m sure you’ve noticed, my last few recipe posts have been focused on hyper-local seasonal food picked up at our world famous Union Square Greenmarket (BTW–Uptown’s very own 125th St Farmers Market opens on Tuesday, June 11th–and now it’s open on both Tuesdays, 10am-5pm AND Fridays, 3pm to 8pm).  And, since this blog is all about creating amazing food with organic, local, and sustainably grown produce, I figured I would keep the trend going because rhubarb grows best in our Northeastern climate, so it just can’t be ignored.  Because Rhubarb is a cold weather crop (and up until this week its been chilly in New York) the past few weeks Union Square Farmers Market has been overflowing with rhubarb.  Rhubarb is a cherished vegetable (yes, vegetable) from my childhood.  Since it grew wild behind our garden, my brother and I, in between battling aliens in our cedar tree spaceship and rolling down the back hill, would snap off a stalk of young rhubarb and gnaw all of the juicy tartness out of their long stems.  From this wild bounty of rhubarb my mother made strawberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb jam, preserves, or my favorite–Rhubarb Compote.  We often ate it on vanilla ice cream and loved to enjoy it on pancakes or waffles (any fruit compote is a great substitute for maple syrup because it has so much less sugar in it).   As most of the vegetables at Farmers Market do, the Rhubarb was calling to me, so I had no choice but to pick up a few stalks, grab a bunch of mint, and get a little bit fancy (I added fresh vanilla bean) with a standard recipe from my childhood.

10 stalks fresh rhubarb, cleaned and dried
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs fresh mint
2/3 inch fresh vanilla bean, sliced and scraped

chopped RhubarbChop rhubarb into 1/3 inch cubes and place in a large saucepan.

rhubarb in pot

suggared rhubarb

Add sugar and stir to combine.

macerated rhubarbLet stand for around an hour so sugar can macerate the rhubarb cubes.  (You’ll know that the macerating is done when the sugar is dissolved, the fruit appears glossy, and there is liquid in the bottom of the pot).

Mint LeavesCook rhubarb on medium-low heat stirring occasionally.  As the rhubarb cooks, it will break down and become very soft.  Cook until the rhubarb cooks down and turns into a sauce and is smooth.

Rhubarb compote with mint

Add chopped mint and  scraped vanilla bean insides (if you don’t have fresh vanilla bean, I would NOT substitute vanilla extract–just omit the vanilla completely) and stir to incorporate.

Rhubarb, mint, and vanilla bean compote parfait

Let cool and serve over ice cream, in a Greek yogurt parfait, or on waffles, pancakes, or angel food cake.  What a divine early summer treat!

greek yogurt parfait

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