I've always loved stewed fruits - there's something very "homely" about them. Perhaps it's because the house always smells gloriously spicy after stewing fruits, or because they were a staple on the dessert menu at big family gatherings. Usually in pies, delicious.
Problem is, stewing fruits usually means adding heaps of refined sugar to make them gooey and so very sweet. So I decided to pick up some rhubarb from the farmers' market because it was lookin' pretty, and stewed it with a concoction of spices and sweetened with stevia. It's wonderful served warm on protein pancakes, hot or cold with greek yoghurt, cold on muesli and delicious on its own at any temperature.
Spiced Stewed Rhubarb (sugar/gluten/dairy free. low carb.)
- Mid-sized saucepan half filled with rhubarb (I didn't weigh...but 2 big handfuls of rhubarb stalks!)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (try to remove the bitter white pith from the lemon rind)*
- 2 Tbs organic butter or coconut oil
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 4 cloves
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder, or 1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Ground ginger
- Ground cinnamon
- 1/4 C stevia granules
*If you like, use an orange...I didn't have one at home!
- Carefully slice thick strips of zest from your lemon, running the knife along the underside of each strip to remove the white pithy business, which is bitter and yuck
- Wash your rhubarb and cut the stalks into 2-inch chunks
- In a shallow, but mid-sized, saucepan on medium heat, melt 1Tbs of butter or coconut oil
- If you're using a fresh vanilla pod, run a sharp knife down the length of the pod and open it up to expose the lovely vanillary jewels inside. Run the blunt edge of your knife down each half to get the beans out.
- When melted, add the lemon zest, cinnamon quills, cloves and the bean-less vanilla pod and let them sizzle a bit until your kitchen smells like Christmas and the aromas are going
- Throw in your rhubarb and give it all a toss
- Add the lemon juice and then enough water to cover about 3/4 of the rhubarb (there should be a layer or 2 of rhubarb chunks that are sitting on top of the water line)
- Add the vanilla beans/powder/extract and another tablespoon of butter or coconut oil, stir.
- Add about 1/4tsp nutmeg, 1/2tsp ground ginger and if you love cinnamon, add another 1/2tsp
- At this point, taste the liquid. Add stevia gradually until the liquid doesn't taste sour or bitter, but let it have some tang still. Keep adding your spices until it's to your liking if you feel that way inclined.
- You want the liquid simmering but you don't want it going too fast. You're using nice aromatic ingredients and they need some time to penetrate the rhubarb (think of it as a guy flirting with a girl at a bar - if she's a classy lady it'll take some time for our casanova to warm up to her before she's softened up and is ready to give up her digits and he's got no chance if he asks for her number straight away before having a chat...) (we're penetrating the rhubarb though, folks, not the lady teehee *naughty adult inuendo*)
- Turn the heat off when the rhubarb starts to fall apart if you prod it with a spoon. The end result should see the rhubarb chunks retaining their shape but are overall quite soft and a gorgeous berry red all the way through.
- Let cool (or don't) and pick out the cinnamon quills, zest, cloves and vanilla pod
- Pop into a pyrex dish/bowl and keep in the fridge
Note: If you find you have a watery mix once the rhubarb has cooked through, pick out the aromatics then use a slotted spoon to scoop out the rhubarb into a dish. Put the remaining liquid through a sieve and then back into the pan on high heat to reduce. It should be at a fast boil - keep your eye on it and it'll go quite syrupy - you can either stir this through the rhubarb or keep it in a little jug to put on yoghurt/pancakes/ice cream...
I had some cold topped with some almonds that I toasted in a pan with some cinnamon, some chia seeds and some unsweetened coconut.
Why you shouldn't walk past rhubarb at the market:
Rhubarb is often put into the "too hard" or "too confusing" category, but it's got a steady nutritional profile. It's not exactly a superfood, but it is high in fibre (to keep things moving) and low fructose (sugar playing hide and seek in fruit) so suitable for diabetics and those with autoimmune disorders. It's also a good source of vitamin C, which helps out your immune system by flushing cells of nasty buggers. It's even got a hefty whack of vitamin K, which is important in our body because it helps clot blood if we cut ourselves etc. Don't worry though, you can still enjoy rhubarb even if you're on blood thinning medication or have had blood clots in the past!