Rhubarb lends itself well to savoury dishes if given the right sweetness during cooking. It is also an extremely delicate plant to cook with and as such must be dealt with carefully if you want to keep it intact. For this recipe the rhubarb is baked in a syrup for about 15 minutes, without touching it, until it is soft but not mushy. It is then used as a base for the rest of the meal. If you have not considered using rhubarb in a savoury dish before, I urge you to give this a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Prep time: 10-15 minutes. Cooking time: about 25 minutes.
For the Rhubarb:
2 tbsp olive oil
300g fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves fresh garlic, hit with the flat of a knife to break it up
1 inch piece fresh ginger, very finely sliced
160g unrefined sugar
3 tbsp water
For the Sweet Potato and Swede Mix:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small swede, peeled and diced into 1 ½ cm pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced the same
Generous pinch sea salt
2-3 spring onions, finely sliced. Set some aside to garnish at the end.
30g whole hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F
To cook the rhubarb, put the olive oil into a small baking tray that is wide enough to hold all the rhubarb flat. Put the rhubarb into the tray and toss around in the oil. Add the garlic and the ginger slices, then pour over the sugar and sprinkle on the water. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. You can check it’s done by prodding a piece with the back of a spoon. It will give easily. Set aside and allow the rhubarb to sit in the garlic syrup until you are ready to serve it.
Meanwhile make the sweet potato mix. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan that has a lid and fry the sweet potato and swede for 2 minutes, stirring often. Season with the sea salt, then put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring often, until the swede is tender. The potato will have mushed by this time, but that is fine. 5 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the garlic from the rhubarb syrup, chop it up a bit and add it to the swede mix, along with the spring onions.
When this is done, break up the hazelnuts with the bottom of a heavy saucepan, then chop them up just a little.
If the rhubarb has gone cold by this point, just pop it in the oven for a minute or two to heat back up, then divide it between two plates, setting the syrup aside for the moment.
Serve the swede mix on top of the rhubarb, then top with half the crushed hazelnuts and sprinkle on some spring onion to garnish. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of the syrup over the top and serve immediately.