Sweet Signs of Spring

Roasted Spiced Rhubarb with Fresh Strawberries

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

A display of rhubarb at the farmer’s market in Carnation, Washington triggered fond memories of my Nana’s stewed rhubarb; she canned every spring and served as a breakfast treat.  Nana grew up on a farm in Minnesota where a hearty breakfast, including a fruit dessert, was the norm.  Far from the farm, in her Los Angeles breakfast nook, she continued to serve her grandchildren the same breakfast desserts.  We loved it.

I honor this childhood memory every spring by making rhubarb-strawberry compote (sauce).  Roasting rhubarb with sugar and spices concentrates the flavors and helps preserve the fruit’s texture. Adding strawberries makes the sauce even better and adds a fresh note. Swirl it into plain yogurt for breakfast or whirl some in a blender with yogurt and other fruits for a to-go smoothie. It also moves to dessert, as pictured, with a lemony yogurt cake.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Like fresh cranberries, rhubarb needs sugar to be palatable.  You may be able to use a little less when pairing it with sweet peak-season strawberries. Cook rhubarb in a non-reactive pan as it is acidic and will react with metals such as aluminum.  I use an oven-safe glass baking dish.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

When selecting rhubarb look for firm stalks – the redder the color the sweeter they taste.  Rhubarb leaves contain a toxic amount of oxylate and should be discarded; the stalks are considered safe to eat unless you are on a low-oxylate diet for a medical condition.

Rhubarb is not considered a nutrition powerhouse, although it is an excellent source of vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. While it contains calcium, like spinach and some other foods, it is bound to oxylate so it is not a reliable dietary source.  For information on the nutritional benefits of strawberries, here’s a link to my blog post Strawberry Salad with Crumbled Gorgonzola and Pistachios  .

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Roasted Spiced Rhubarb with Fresh Strawberries

A full cup of sugar suits my palate – your palate may agree to less. Remember to use a non-reactive cooking pan.  This compote keeps well in the fridge for a few days. 




2 pounds rhubarb

1 cup golden brown or granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups fresh sliced or chopped strawberries


Preheat oven to 375°.  Trim ends and slice rhubarb crosswise into ¾-inch pieces.  Spread in a lightly oiled 7 1/2-x-11-inch shallow baking dish.  Combine sugar and spices in a medium bowl.  Add rhubarb and toss to coat with sugar mixture. Spread into an even layer.  Roast until fruit is tender but holds its shape, stirring once or twice, about 20 minutes.  Cool.  Chill.  Stir in strawberries.  Makes 8 (about ½ cup) servings.







© 2014 Lorelle Del Matto

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.


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