At the start of each year, forced rhubarb is a fruit I always look forward to arriving in my kitchen. It is particularly pretty to look at and tastes wonderful. There are so many ways in which to enjoy fresh rhubarb. It is delicious for breakfast with yoghurt and perhaps a little granola. It is a wonderful addition to so many puddings too, from meringues to pannacotta to Basque cheesecake, just to name a few. I am quite happy to eat a bowl of it on its own too.
Cooking rhubarb, however, is very simple, but benefits from adhering to some guidance. Most people enjoy eating rhubarb when it has been cooked and sweetened a little, perhaps with sugar, or honey. There is a very fine line, however, between it being cooked and tender and it turning into mush. I find roasting rhubarb helps to cook rhubarb quickly, but reliably resulting in pretty, neat pieces. Cooking on the hob in a pan, in my experience, tends to lead to overcooking much more easily.
So, here is my preferred way of cooking rhubarb below, and a photo of the rhubarb just out of the oven, ready to serve. I am deliberately showing you an unedited photo of the finished product, as it took me a fair bit of testing to work out how to achieve perfect-looking pieces of rhubarb as I had seen in so many photos elsewhere! I hope you will be encouraged to cook rhubarb this way and make the most of it this season.
4 sticks of rhubarb, cut into 5cm-ish pieces
150g sugar (feel free to adjust if more is needed, or less is preferred)
Pre heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
Take a large oven proof dish and lay the rhubarb slices in the dish in a single layer, sprinkle over the sugar and then cover with foil.
Bake in the oven for 8 and 15 minutes until just tender. Watch it like a hawk after eight minutes, as it can turn into a mush if you leave it just a couple of minutes too long. The rhubarb is cooked when a sharp knife can be inserted in the stalk without meeting resistance. Set aside to cool.