Both in season at the moment, strawberries & rhubarb top my list of classic pairings. Though each are delicious on their own, together they are near perfection. The contrast of ripe, sweet strawberries blended with the tangy notes of rhubarb make for a memorable pie, crisp or, in this case, dessert sauce.
A bit of trivia: while strawberries clearly qualify as fruit, rhubarb is technically a vegetable (related to sorrel and buckwheat) that is more often credited with having fruit-like qualities.
I have seen two varieties of rhubarb at farmers’ market: the traditional crimson red stalks most people are familiar with, and a green version that closely resembles a blushing celery. Both have the same flavor. Choose stalks that are firm, crisp, and glossy but be sure to discard the leaves which are toxic.
Strawberries are one of the first spring fruits to appear at market, and have one of the longest growing seasons. You can’t go wrong with varieties like Albion, Seascape, and Chandler which are favored among local growers. Always choose organic and ask for a taste to confirm the sugar content is to your liking.
This easy recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert Sauce comes together in about 15 minutes. Spooned over vanilla bean ice cream it takes an ordinary dessert to new heights.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert Sauce (Preparation time: 15 minutes; Chill time: 1 hour).
1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
3 stalks rhubarb, diced
2 tablespoons sugar *
1/8 cup water
*I substituted rose jelly for the sugar which adds subtle floral notes to the finished sauce. Lavender or wine jelly are also excellent choices. Look for these in specialty stores.
~ Combine strawberries and rhubarb in a medium non-stick sauce pan with water over medium heat.
~ Allow fruit to simmer, stirring gently to prevent burning, for about 8-10 minutes. *note: rhubarb will fall apart as it cooks.
~ Add sugar or jelly and stir until combined with the fruit. Taste and add more sweetener if necessary.
~ Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Refrigerate until chilled. The finished sauce will be thick with chunks of fruit.
~ Use liberally as an ice cream topping along with whipped cream and additional diced strawberries.