We came to the farm for Easter and, low and behold, the rhubarb is coming out of the ground! Not surprising since it’s such an early bloomer, but it still amazes me each time I see its red and green leaves pushing out of the earth so early in the season. Doesn’t it know it could turn quite cold again? Alas, it’s a very hearty plant.

In honour of rhubarb’s robustness, initiative, and tenacity, I am going to give you an incredible compote recipe. It’s from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lutkins. I made it last spring, canned it, and enjoyed it until Christmas when my family wolfed it down one breakfast with rhubarb coffee cake (recipe to follow if I can figure out how to truly vegan-ize it). I wish I had made more.  It would be particularly scrumptious if you wait until the strawberries come into season. But perhaps you have some frozen from last season? Whatever the case, beware. This recipe is awesome and addictive.

10 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

4 cups hulled, halved strawberries

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup fresh orange juice

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tsps ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring once and skimming off any foam that forms on top, until the rhubarb is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Remove the vanilla bean and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate. It will keep for two days.