Pretty in pink

Rhubarb's sweet-tart flavor brightens classic desserts
KATE WASHINGTON

Rhubarb seems to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods, and I've never really understood why. Its perfectly lovable, tartly refreshing taste is wonderful in simple desserts. Bake it with sugar to make an easy compote that's great on its own or in a layered rhubarb-lemon cream pie (below), or top the chopped fruit with streusel for a homey rhubarb crisp.

Now is the time to bring rhubarb into your kitchen. Tender, bubble gum-pink stalks of hothouse rhubarb start to appear in markets in February; deeper red field-grown specimens come into season in April and are available through May or June. (Either type is great in our recipes.) This long season is good news for those who love rhubarb ― and for whom its tang is one of the sweetest tastes of spring.

QUICK RHUBARB IDEAS

Our compote is great in simple desserts or drinks. Here are some of our favorites.

Strawberry-rhubarb fool: Stir together chilled compote, sliced fresh strawberries, and unsweetened whipped cream; spoon into bowls and chill 2 hours.

Rhubarb-orange parfaits: Layer compote with orange segments and vanilla ice cream in tall glasses. Top with a few shreds of orange peel.

Rhubarb sandwich cake: Split a sponge cake horizontally and spoon compote between the layers, using a slotted spoon; sprinkle cake with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Rhubarb mimosas: Pour the compote through a fine strainer (reserve fruit for other uses); add a little of the syrup to glasses of prosecco or sparkling wine for a blushing-pink drink ― perfect for a bridal shower.

Rhubarb lemonade: Stir the strained syrup into fresh lemonade for a new twist.

Recipes:

Easy Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb Crisp