Rhubarb is one of my very favourite things. The lipstick-pink stems of forced rhubarb brighten the dullest of winter days, and their flavour is as bright as their colour, bringing a welcome lift of acidity to the pleasant blandness of cold-weather comfort food. There are so many wonderful forced rhubarb recipes (try my rhubarb and ginger lattice pie for a dazzling dessert), but I love this spiced orange-poached rhubarb for its simplicity and versatility. Try it with yogurt and granola, with porridge (pictured below), or as a dessert with ice cream.
The trick here is to keep the heat as low as possible. Simmered too vigorously, the rhubarb will become stringy, and lose its shape and delicate colour. The spices can be switched up as you like – I used what I had in at the time – and if you simply want to hero the pink, lose the orange juice and poach in 150ml water instead.
– 320g rhubarb
– 30g caster sugar
– 2 blood oranges (or regular oranges)
– ½ vanilla pod
– 4 cardamom pods
- Trim the rhubarb, discarding any leaves (you should be left with about 300g). Slice any thicker stems lengthways, then cut into 5cm batons and transfer to a bowl. Toss with the sugar and set aside for 20 mins.
- Meanwhile, zest and juice the oranges. Measure the juice and make up to 150ml with water, then transfer to a large saucepan with the zest. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and lightly crush the cardamom pods with the flat of your knife; add to the pan.
- Heat the juice mixture on the hob until it just begins to boil, then turn down the heat as low as you can. Add the rhubarb and simmer very gently for 6-8 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until the first pieces are beginning to soften (probably at the edge of the pan). Remove from the heat and cover with a lid for 2 mins, then remove the lid and set aside to cool completely.