Do you like rhubarb? If you answered ‘no’, then I’m currently resisting the urge to tell you that you just haven’t tasted it prepared well. Although this could be true, you might also just genuinely not like it. And you know what? That’s fine. Sometimes we just don’t like things. I personally detest salmon, and it has nothing to do with preparation style. On the other hand, if you answered “No, because it’s a vegetable, not a fruit,” since when is that a legitimate reason to dislike something? Do you dislike wine because it isn’t beer? That’s like saying that you don’t like white chocolate because it isn’t actually chocolate. Disliking white chocolate because it’s too sweet is fine. Disliking it because it isn’t chocolate is just weird.
But maybe you answered ‘yes’, and that whole rant didn’t apply to you. Good job! But now I’m going to get all nitpicky again and ask: do you really like rhubarb? Or do you like rhubarb-strawberry? Because 90% of the time, when you eat a rhubarb pie, that’s what you’re getting. And liking rhubarb-strawberry just isn’t the same thing as liking rhubarb. Which isn’t to say that strawberries aren’t awesome, because they are. I love strawberries. Even (sad to say) the out-of-season ones with white centers, but especially the red through-and-through beauties that are showing up in the farmers’ markets right now. But isn’t it time that we freed rhubarb from the tyranny of the strawberry? Or, better yet, allow them to shine and complement each other without muddling the flavors?
In short: make this rhubarb compote. It’s easy and delicious. No strawberry or lemon or anything else to get in the way of the tart rhubarb flavor. Just 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and a tiny pinch of cinnamon per cup of sliced rhubarb. That’s it. And it’s delicious. It’s even more delicious when made into a shortcake with a ginger biscuit and cardamom whipped cream, or when stuffed into a tartlet shell with strawberry whipped cream and sliced strawberries. But we’ll get to that later.