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a good break

Recipe: braised rhubarb

I was nervous about taking last week off from posting, but felt I could use the break. I think I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Or should. As tempting as it was to skip another week, I’m back at it. Last week was the university’s Spring Break, so we spent it in Crested Butte to squeeze out as many remaining ski days as possible. Neva turned three years old over break, which we celebrated with many of her favorite things like food, orange tennis balls, snow, running, and sleeping in the sun. You can watch her eat her birthday dessert on my Instagram.

happy birthday, little neva!

We received a little powder early in the week on the mountain, migrated to the Nordic trails until they were too worked over by the spring freeze/melt cycle, and then discovered the joys of crust cruising with our skate skis off-trail. It was a good lesson in making the most of every situation. The important thing is to look back on this ski season with gratitude that I was in good enough health to do all of these things in the first place.

such a beautiful sight to behold

getting plastered with snow on the lift

jeremy grabs a fresh line

crust cruising the wide open spaces

Spring in the mountains has been a series of fast moving snow storms alternating with sunshine and blue skies. This pattern can wreak havoc on ski trails as well as running/hiking trails because it’s never all snow or all dirt/rock in spring. More typically you have a combination of dirt, snow, ice, and mud, which is pretty miserable to run and nearly impossible to ski. But I feel so alive as we flirt with the smell of wet forests, spy budding catkins on the aspen trees, and watch sunset later each day.

then it snows and a mama moose and yearling stroll through for a snack

I’ve been waiting over six months to post this recipe for braised (roasted) rhubarb. Living at an elevation of 8500 feet means that we are seasonally out of whack with most of the country (and the world) for much of the year. Rhubarb is popping up all over my Instagram feed, but I know it will be months before my neighbors’ plants even begin to think about producing those brilliantly colored stalks. Those wonderful neighbors gave me some of their rhubarb last September before the first hard freeze. Since I was short on time, I made a super easy spiced rhubarb compote.

rhubarb, honey, orange juice, vanilla bean, star anise, cardamom pods, ginger, salt

slice the rhubarb

scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean

There was enough rhubarb for me to make a half recipe. [If you do scale the recipe down, consider using a smaller pan to keep the liquid from completely evaporating during roasting.] The prep time takes all of a few minutes to slice the rhubarb, peel and slice the ginger, split and scrape the vanilla bean, and juice the orange(s). Do you have to use freshly squeezed orange juice? I recommend it, because it tastes light years better than store-bought orange juice, but you won’t ruin the dish if you don’t have fresh squeezed on hand.

ingredients prepped

place everything in a bowl

toss together

If you’d like to save yourself the trouble of washing an extra bowl, you can toss the ingredients together in the baking pan. Arrange the rhubarb evenly across the pan and roast for 15 minutes. You can give the rhubarb a stir every now and again. The rhubarb is ready when it is tender.

ready to bake

out of the oven

Just thinking of the tangy tart braised rhubarb is making me salivate. The rhubarb flesh disintegrates under the gentle pressure of your tongue as warm spices flood your mouth. I find it a bit intense to eat straight up, but completely delightful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or maybe on French toast. If you have an abundance of rhubarb and are tired of all the strawberry-rhubarb partnerships that are usually tucked into pies and pastries, try braising them. Or you could send some my way!

perfect pairing with vanilla ice cream

tart, sweet, creamy, spiced

Braised Rhubarb
[print recipe]
from Saveur

1 1/2 lbs. rhubarb, cleaned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 pods green cardamom
2 whole star anise
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss all of the ingredients together in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring the rhubarb, until the pieces are tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Makes 4 cups.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

cinnamon-rhubarb mini loaves mango lassi bananas foster bourbon caramel chocolate banana cream pie

12 nibbles at “a good break”

  1. Chani says:

    So glad you’re back! Happy birthday Neva!! Thank you for the beautiful recipe, as always.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’m glad you’re back too! And this rhubarb sounds so good…I don’t think I would’ve thought to put cardamom with it, but now I can’t wait to try it!

  3. Pey-Lih says:

    I love star anise! Is the rhubarb slices slightly crunchy in this recipe? Or does it melt in your mouth with the ice cream? Just curious.

    And Happy belated day, Neva! She is so polite – Mr. Oscardog would have inhaled that thing in seconds.

  4. Lora Spence says:

    HI – Your article is awesome. It brought in a flood of memories of hiding in the rhubarb plants my grandfather had out in the yard. We lived his house. I don’t remember liking or disliking rhubarb but I know it’s healthy! And yes, yes, Happy Birthday!!

  5. Jill Hyde says:

    I’m salivating just reading this! Happy Birthday Neva-girl! She’s so well behaved, and doesn’t budge until released. Good girl! Hard to believe she’s 3! xo, jill

  6. Anita says:

    Ach! As if waiting for delayed Spring wasn’t hard enough, this recipe won’t make it any easier, ;) But wow this has all my favourite ingredients, so will be well worth the wait. Orange and ginger also make up my favourite macron filling, I think from a Hermes recipe.

  7. farmerpam says:

    Yes, it’ll be awhile before I see any rhubarb poking up, but I’ll give this a try. Neva looks so well behaved, 3 already! Happy Spring.

  8. Veronica says:

    I am so glad you are back. Missed you.

    Loved seeing Neva and her birthday feast. She is a lucky puppy !

  9. Emily says:

    Hey, great to see you back. I love the moose picture. You always take such gorgeous shots.

  10. Lisa says:

    We had this last night as our friend, Susan made it for the dessert. It is a very delightful one. We all love it. Thanks for sharing. Susan says ” thanks to Jen”!

  11. M says:

    Why nervous about taking a week off? It’s your site, and you can do what you wanna! <3

  12. jenyu says:

    Chani – Thank you, dear! xo

    Kristin – I wouldn’t have thought to add cardamom either, but it’s so warm and floral! I hope you like it!

    Pey-Lih – No, the rhubarb is pretty mushy and melts in your mouth. I like it that way :)

    Lora – Such sweet memories <3

    Jill - It *IS* hard to believe she's 3, isn't it?! Silly little pup.

    Anita - When the rhubarb starts to come in where you live, you'll be ready! :)

    farmerpam - Huh, I wonder if my feed is full of people who live in the early rhubarb season regions or if they're just saving photos from last spring??

    Veronica - You're so sweet, thank you. xoxo

    Emily - Thank you!

    Lisa - Lovely. Glad Susan and the rest of you liked the recipe!

    M - Because taking a week off is so nice that I may never return to writing the blog again :)

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