Pink Rhubarb Ginger Compote

I’m always excited during rhubarb season and love making this pink rhubarb ginger compote. It reminds me of all the lovely pink rhubarb we had in Scotland when I was little, especially when it found its way into comforting fruit crumbles with a cheeky hint of ginger. But I can’t help feeling disappointed; somehow the rhubarb we find in Paris markets is so, well, GREEN! It first appears as green rhubarb with a hint of pink at the bottom, and it unfortunately stays like that the whole season.

Looking at many beautiful food blogs (see Christina’s Cucina’s baked rhubarb from California), their gorgeous crimson-coloured rhubarb whether forced or in-season, makes me wish I could just jump on the TGV speed train to visit my parents-in-law’s local Provençal market in Apt, and return with piles of glorious red rhubarb from the French sun-kissed south. Back to reality: instead I use the best candied fruit in the world from Apt: ginger.

All that’s left is how to make green rhubarb red.

Parisian rhubarb a bit too green

Let’s get something straight: green rhubarb is perfectly good and safe to eat, except don’t eat the leaves – they’re toxic! Although the green colour of rhubarb doesn’t apparently make any difference to the taste, let’s face it: it looks far more tempting than a pile of green mush for dessert, doesn’t it?

Speaking of mush, I’ve found it’s really worth the extra time of leaving the rhubarb to macerate in the sugar. I’ve found that if you throw in the fruit straight into the pan with sugar to simmer, the rhubarb stays hard for longer and by the time it softens, the whole compote is complete mush, rather than preserving the look of the rhubarb with the maceration method.

Back to the colour. Many cooks add classic strawberries to add that seasonal pinky touch but with the ginger, I prefer to leave their sweet flavour out of it this time. Other cooks simply add some red colouring.  I’ve even seen beetroot added to rhubarb to add its colour but I much prefer that in chocolate-beetroot cakes (have you tried the chocolate-beetroot macarons in Mad About Macarons, yet?)

So I’ve found a way to wing it that goes perfectly with the compote – by using tea!

hibiscus tea macaronsTwo caffeine-free teas are fabulous at adding that ruby touch:

– Teapigs Super Red Fruits tea and (better still);

a dried hibiscus flower tea (available in health food stores), which has a wonderfully intense ruby colour.
I’ve just discovered Cape & Cape, a new Parisian tea store hidden behind Trocadero, specialising in all kinds of teas from Africa, especially Rooibos from South Africa.  (More on this later, as I find this place fascinating!) They’ve just received a stock of Karkadé, an African Hibiscus tea, which will be available online soon. Remember these hibiscus macarons when I first started the blog?

This compote is a perfect match on top of yoghurt and homemade granola for breakfast. For teatime or dessert, enjoy it with financier teacakes, warm from the oven.  The almond financier recipe is in Teatime in Paris, and to partner it with this compote, add the zest of a couple of limes – it’s fabulous!  Rhubarb and almonds are made for each other. Also in the book, try it with the poppy and rhubarb macarons.