Rhubarb is the most delicious food, one of my favourites. It has a lovely tangy flavour, but is often a bit overlooked (unless you live within the Rhubarb Triangle in Yorkshire). It is slightly hard to define; the part we eat is the plant’s stalk, so I suppose that puts it in the category of vegetables like chard or pak choi, but it is used as a fruit. I have seen it used in lots of savoury dishes though, so we could say that it is admirably versatile. If you can grow it yourself, you won’t be able to harvest it for the first year or so, but after that you’re likely to have more than you know what to do with. If you (like me) can’t grow it, you can find it, in season, in grocers and supermarkets, but a ‘pick your own’ farm is sure to be the best value option. It’s a great source of calcium and fibre, as well as containing vitamins K and C. So it’s a pretty good all-rounder, and a good one to work into your diet. This recipe is great for coping with big harvest, and is easy to prepare in big batches to keep you going through a busy week.
Start by preparing the rhubarb itself. Cut off the leaves: it’s important not to consume this as it is toxic. Cut the stalks, rather charmingly named ‘petioles’, into small chunks. Ideally you want them to retain a bit of shape as they cook, so don’t cut them too thinly.
Place the rhubarb in a dish or tray, with a little bit of water. This is just to stop it catching as it first heats up. Try to use one big enough that it can be arranged in a single layer, to help it cook evenly. Now you can add your sweetener. Rhubarb is very sour, so you’ll need something, but I tend to go light on the sweetener, as I’ve got quite a taste for sour things. Sugar or honey both work well, with honey giving a lovely traditional taste. But I know not everyone is a fan of honey, so sugar is perfectly acceptable too. If you do choose sugar, go for a strong brown one, like demerara. This is also the time to add some spices. Rhubarb can take quite strong spices, so I usually throw in a lot of ginger, and sometimes some cinnamon. Place in the oven on a moderate heat, for about 20 minutes (depending on how much you’ve used!).
While that’s cooking, mix your granola. I must admit I don’t make my own granola. I try to pick the simplest ready-made one I can find, as a base to add things to. Lots of granola contains palm-oil, so if you’re trying to avoid palm-oil (good luck!), try a brand like Biona or Nature’s Path.
Once you’ve choen your base, you have free-reign over what to add. Some classic favourites of mine are sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chopped dried dates (they have such a satisfyingly chewy texture), and chopped hazelnuts. Remember that most of your flavour is coming from the compote, so you don’t need to add any heavy-hitters to the granola.
When the rhubarb is soft but not completely mushy, take it out of the oven and transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Make sure you pour at least some of the juices out too. Mix all this up with a fork, and you should be lest with a pretty smooth, but not completely puréed compote. While it’s still how you can taste the mixture to see if it needs any extra sweetness – be sure to add this while it’s still piping hot, so it mixes properly.
Let that cool, then layer up with your other elements. Jam jars are ideal containers for this mix; they’re just the right size, and the lid makes them easy to chuck in your bag and take to work.
Put a big splodge of the compote in first, then add a slightly deeper layer of yogurt. Again, the yogurt doesn’t need to bring much to the party, so pick a simple, unflavoured option. As a West Country girl, I’m going to recommend Yeo Valley’s plain yogurts. A slightly thicker, Greek-style yogurt is a good choice too. Some people will suggest a low-fat or fat-free variety, but to be honest with your it’s sometimes nice to have the luxurious creaminess of a full-fat yogurt to get you through the first groggy hours of work. Smooth out the yogurt, and add a generous handful or two of granola. Just like that, you have a breakfast to rival anything the likes of Pret or Leon have to offer!
This is a really good recipe to throw together on a Sunday, giving you a working week’s worth of tasty breakfasts. What are you favourite weekday breakfasts?