Rhubarb Compote: A Taste Memory, Updated

June 4, 2021 Updated: June 4, 2021

Growing up in Los Angeles, I couldn’t wait to go to Knott’s Berry Farm for a fun family day. But I really couldn’t wait for our early dinners.

Picture a big plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cherry rhubarb sauce. The rhubarb was so unexpected and delicious. I’ve made rhubarb pies and rhubarb sauce to accompany a juicy pork roast, but I had never made this compote before.

What’s a compote? It’s fruit cooked in a sugar syrup. What could be simpler to prepare? Usually thought of as a dessert, fruit compotes are equally agreeable as a spread on warm scones, the filling for a pie, a topping for pancakes or waffles, a sauce to pork chops, or just served in a glass bowl to end a meal. I’ve never been sure why Knott’s Berry Farm paired up their rhubarb compote with fried chicken, but I am glad they did!

Rhubarb is a plant with edible red and green stalks, similar to celery, that are very sour. Thought of as a springtime vegetable, field rhubarb usually arrives in April and is available until July. Hothouse rhubarb is available year-round.

Choose stalks that are firm and tender. Rhubarb always needs to be sweetened and is often paired with sweet strawberries. In this recipe, I’ve added grated ginger, giving the compote a zippy layer of flavor. You’ll notice that I don’t cook the strawberries, so that they retain their texture as the compote cools. I like to add an extra grating of ginger once the compote is cooked for just a little spicy kick. Whichever way you decide to serve this, your guests will sing your praises.

Gingered Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Serves 6

  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-wide pieces fresh rhubarb (cut from about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, divided
  • 1 pint container fresh medium strawberries, hulled and halved

Over medium heat, combine rhubarb, sugar, water, and 1 teaspoon of ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.

Cover pan and simmer gently until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in strawberries. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger and stir to combine. Chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Recipe Note: This can be made, covered, and refrigerated up to two days ahead.

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at SeriouslySimple.com. Copyright 2021 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.