It’s like I have a one-track mind in spring, and that track is laid with slender pinkish stalks and leads inevitably to the oven. I’m talking about rhubarb, of course, and my favorite (easiest!) preparation, the oven-baked compote. So last week at the greenmarket, I was compelled to buy yet another pound-plus of the crunchy, tart, plant. I had all kinds of glorious plans, but by the time I got home, I only had energy to chop it and toss it with some sugar before collapsing.
When the compote was meltingly soft, about an hour later, it occurred to me that rhubarb would make a delicious, silky sorbet, what with all its pink and earthy flavor and high pectin content. So I puréed the compote with a cup of Vigonier that had been wasting away in the fridge, and ran the resulting slush through my ice cream maker.
The sorbet was delicious. Just sweet enough to balance the tartness of the rhubarb and the crisp wine. Somehow the wine brought a note of spice and sophistication, and thanks to the long, slow cooking process, the rhubarb fibers melted into the gelatinous purée. I’m already thinking of how to improve this recipe when I make it again (though there’s still a half-full quart container in my freezer). I think I’d opt for less wine next time and maybe a few drops of rose water. I meant to put that in this time, but forgot. I think adding some berries to the rhubarb would also be nice, as would agave nectar instead of sugar or two tablespoons gin instead of the wine. It’s a pity rhubarb season is so short and my freezer so small — otherwise, I’d make a variation on this sorbet at least once a week.
1 1/4 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (or use a mixture of rhubarb and berries)
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c crisp, fruity white wine ( I used an Argentinian Vigonier, but a California Pinot Grigio or Provenςal Rosé would be nice, too)
2 tsp rose water (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350. In a pyrex loaf pan, toss the rhubarb and sugar. Bake about 1 hour, until the rhubarb falls apart when stirred. Cool to room temperature.
Purée the rhubarb with a food processor or immersion blender and add the wine and rose water gradually. Chill the mixture overnight, then run through ice cream maker.