Rhubarb and Apple Baked Compote

The Urbana Market at the Square opened for the season last weekend.  The vendors are a little thin because it's early in the growing season, but the options still feel plentiful.  I intended to come home with a lettuce mix and asparagus, but I left with rhubarb. 

In my imagination we would soon be eating something like a rhubarb and cheese danish, with a hint of orange, in muffin form.  If I've made you hungry for that I apologize, because now I need to admit that what I actually produced was beautiful but dry small bread flecked with sour bits of rhubarb.  I had forgotten that rhubarb needs an extra hit of sweetness, and that the best muffins are essentially cupcakes without frosting. 

But this compote has the solution - baked apples take the edge off of rhubarb's sourness, especially if you use a sweeter apple like Fuji or Braeburn.  I liked it just on the border of tart, but you can add up to another 1/4 cup of sugar to the recipe.  While it is baking it makes the house smell so good that you could charge admission. 

If you're feeling a little more exotic, try the original recipe for Baked Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest.  Or Danisse's variation with blood oranges and cloves.  I didn't have the ingredients on hand for these recipes, but let me know if you try them!

Baked Rhubarb and Apple Compote

3 c. rhubarb, sliced into 1" pieces
3 c. apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1" pieces
2 tsp. orange zest, divided
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Reserve half of the orange zest, but place all the other ingredients in a medium size baking dish and stir to coat the fruit. 

2.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir, then bake for another 15, or until the fruit is tender.  Sprinkle the compote with the remaining orange zest, and serve it swirled into Greek yogurt, or with vanilla ice cream.

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