I don’t know about you but we can’t get enough of strawberries and rhubarb at the moment. Some foods are meant for each other and you can definitely say that about these two. Doesn’t it just put the icing on the cake, though, when you think of all the health benefits too? Anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants galore, anti-cancer properties in droves, huge stores of essential vitamins. The list goes on and, in our house, we are in guilt free heaven ..
This time last year we had our food testing done which then saw me strawberry-less all Summer. I didn’t realise they can be a common allergen but I have since met a handful of people with similar problems. Several months of the GAPS diet later my sensitivity seemed to have gone but I do still like to err on the side of caution and go easy. That’s another reason I like to combine these berries with something else, just so I can temper the quantities I’m tucking into!
Don’t go thinking that rhubarb needs a ton of sugar to make it more palatable because that’s just not true. All it needs is a drizzle of honey just to take the edge off a sourness that is actually pretty darned fine.
Of course you could put all the ingredients into a pan and stew them for around 5 minutes but baking gives depth to the flavour and the vanilla rounds it off to perfection. But if you were to bake this without a cover, then the whole thing would dry up and give you miserable fruits and a burned dish. I would never use foil over the top of anything because aluminium leaches into the food below and that’s not very anti-inflammatory. So I use a wet cartouche* which works perfectly.
To serve, this compote does very nicely indeed with a coconut accompaniment. The milk poured gently and in small quantities over the top is pretty fine, but whipped coconut cream with scraped seeds retrieved from the vanilla pod used in the compote, well my goodness that is just dandy! Vanilla pods are not cheap but you can make both the compote and the cream with a single one, then lengthen its life still further. In the ‘olden days’ I would have stored it in a small pot of sugar but how about stashing it in a jar of honey? Sounds even more delicious, no?
Whipped coconut cream is one of those things that pays big dividends for little work. It’s amazing how simple it is, the hardest part is being organised enough to chill the can beforehand. So if you haven’t already tried this dairy cream substitute give it a whirl, it’ll be the first of many. Then, once you’ve become completely and hopelessly addicted, I’m going to introduce you to another way of serving this compote, by far the childrens’ favourite right now. You can have that recipe next time …
baked strawberry rhubarb compote
This keeps for several days in the fridge, so you can have a sweet treat or instant dessert on hand whenever the mood strikes. My son even begged me to teach him how to make it. Praise indeed!
450g / 1 lb organic strawberries
450g / 1 lb organic rhubarb
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways *
2-3 tbsp honey
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C
Cut the strawberries in half and the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Place into a large (or two medium) size ovenproof dish, along with the vanilla and 3 tbsp filtered water. Drizzle over the honey and cover with a wet cartouche*. Bake for approx 20 minutes until tender but not falling apart.
* Get yourself a piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, a little larger than the surface area of your dish, and scrunch it up. Make it completely wet and squeeze out the excess, then smooth it out again and lay over the top of the fruits. Tuck it in around the inside edges of the dish to avoid evaporating all the juices that come out in the cooking process.
whipped vanilla coconut cream
It’s important to use coconut milk that has been refrigerated well ahead of time, because this allows the cream to separate from the water and rise to the top of the can. I always keep at least one can in the fridge so I can whip up some cream at a moments notice! No need to go to the trouble of getting out the electric beater, by the time you’ve done that you could have whipped it up by hand. Stir in some raw honey if you want to sweeten it up a bit but I bet you won’t need it. This keeps for several days in the fridge, it will harden over time but a quick mix will bring it back to a cream consistency once again.
(makes approx 1.5 cups)
1 can full fat coconut milk (I use this one)
seeds scraped from the vanilla bean used in your compote *
Remove your chilled coconut milk from the fridge, turn it upside down and open it up with a can opener. Pour the coconut water into a jar and keep it for another purpose, such as smoothies. Scoop out the cream and put it into a large chilled bowl together with the seeds from your vanilla bean. Beat with a balloon whisk until soft peaks form then transfer into a container until needed.
* Important to note: Vanilla bean is a Stage 1 introduction on the AIP so proceed with caution or leave out altogether.