Cooked rhubarb rarely wins beauty contests, and this recipe won’t change that record. But it’s delicious enough that I don’t care. It’s fresh rhubarb, cut into short lengths, tossed in a pot with wine and sugar and a vanilla bean, baked until it goes tender enough to slump juicily on the end of a fork. I’ve made a very similar recipe that called for water instead of wine and orange zest instead of vanilla, and it’s very good, too. But what’s outstanding about this is just that: the wine and the vanilla. Where water works fine, wine brings a flavor and fragrance of its own, an added dimension, a dose of sweetness and acidity that balance and complement the flavor of rhubarb. And though I do like rhubarb with orange in almost any incarnation, vanilla bean is subtler, able to bring out and underline the best in rhubarb without masking it. It’s not too sweet, and it’s not too tart, and though it would probably be nice with Greek yogurt or ice cream or a simple cake, I take mine straight, by which I mean straight out of the refrigerator. I don’t even need a plate.
P.S. See you out there!
Inspired by Canal House Cooking, Volume 3
For the wine here, I used our house white at Delancey: Château de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne, a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s bright and crisp and citrusy.
2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
½ cup sugar
½ cup crisp white wine
1 vanilla bean, split
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven or other deep oven-safe pot. Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean, and stir to mix. Bake (uncovered) for about 30 minutes, or until very tender, giving the pot a gentle stir about midway through to ensure that the rhubarb cooks evenly.
Note: I like to eat this cold, though I imagine you could also serve it warm.