Food & dining

Seasonal Recipe

Recipe for rhubarb and orange compote

Sally Pasley Vargas for the Boston Globe

Serves 6

During cooking, rhubarb’s bright pink often washes out in a profusion of juices and turns a disappointing gingery brown. To preserve the rosy color, cook the rhubarb very briefly in a wide pan to facilitate evaporation, and immediately transfer it to a bowl to let it finish cooking in its own heat. Rosewater, available in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores, adds a romantic touch to this bright compote.

1cup sugar, or more to taste
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
2pounds rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1teaspoon vanilla
½teaspoon rosewater (optional)
1cup heavy cream
¼cup chopped pistachios

1. Have on hand a heatproof bowl.

2. In a large, deep skillet, combine 1 cup of the sugar, and orange rind and juice. Stir over medium heat until the mixture liquefies and begins to boil.


3. Turn up the heat to high and add the rhubarb. Cook, stirring constantly, just until the rhubarb juices start to flow, and the liquid comes to a boil. Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the rhubarb starts to fall apart but about half the chunks remain intact. Taste and add more sugar (2 to 3 tablespoons), if you like.

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4. Immediately pour the rhubarb into the bowl and stir in the vanilla and rosewater, if using. Continue stirring until the mixture is cool; the rhubarb will continue to soften as it sits; refrigerate.

5. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Spoon the rhubarb into stemmed cups and garnish with cream and pistachios. Sally Pasley Vargas