This week’s recipe is sweet and simple, and it’s a twofer. In no time, you’ll have a small bottle of ruby-colored syrup and a little dish of fruit compote. Local strawberries take the star role in this recipe, with rhubarb as the character actor, and parsley playing the part of “mystery ingredient.”
We had two other local inspirations. Grown-up rhubarb Market Cocktails at Osteria La Civetta, and a kid-friendly fruit spritzer recipe in ChopChop, the Boston-based family cooking magazine (p. 26 in ChopChop’s spring issue at our market table). This version is easily doubled.
Ruby syrup and compote
- 1 cup thinly sliced strawberries (approx. 6 oz. after trimming)
- 1 cup thinly sliced rhubarb (approx. 4 oz. after trimming)
- A piece of lemon or orange zest
- 1 cup sugar, pinch of salt
- 1 cup water
- A few drops vanilla essence
- 2 sprigs flat Italian parsley
Combine sliced fruit, sugar, salt and water in a pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, and toss in parsley. (You don’t have to use parsley but it’s a strawberry enhancer.) Simmer for 15 minutes or until you have a rich red syrup. The strawberries will be very soft and the rhubarb will have mostly disintegrated.
Pour everything except parsley into a sieve – a conical sieve if you have one – set over a large jug; let syrup drip through. You can nudge the process with an occasional gentle stir, but avoid squashing fruit and turning syrup cloudy. Spoon fruit left in sieve into a small jar, stirring it up into a jammy compote. Close jar and refrigerate. Skim syrup if necessary, and pour carefully into a small bottle.
Use compote as fresh jam – a slice of buttered baguette, a dollop of compote and a teaspoon of whipped cream is the breakfast version of strawberry shortcake. Or spoon compote into creamy yogurt or over ice cream. Keep syrup in the refrigerator, ready for mixing with seltzer or lemonade for thirst-quenching drinks, pinking up a glass of white wine or bubbly sparkler, or for evening cocktail experiments. Let us know how they go!