I grew up wearing rhubarb leaves as hats in our family garden (hippy baby), and trying to eat the stalks raw just to see if I could, but it occurred to me recently that despite how much rhubarb is talked about, there are many people that don’t know how to use it. Even a basic compote is a lost art. But rhubarb is magical: perfect for sweet and savory. A chutney perhaps? A cocktail with mint? Options are endless.
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Which is why every time I spot rhubarb at the market, I get as much as I can. Despite good intentions of coming up with new crazy pie recipes, this tends to just lead to impromptu breakfasts of rhubarb compote with mint. This, of course, is delicious, but leaves something to be desired in the “try something new” field. Solution: Add a random herb and add the compote to something completely different.
I recently discovered anise and rhubarb are complementary flavors — and a sweet, simple compote of the two is a perfect base for a batch of vegan ice cream. “Ice cream!?” you exclaim. “Don’t you need a fancy machine for that?”
No, not for this one. The secret is a fatty coconut cream and frequent stirring (in other words, being your own ice cream maker). The anise brings out the rhubarb and vice versa, and if you let the ice cream sit for a few minutes before serving it, you’ll have just the perfect consistency.
Rhubarb and Anise Coconut Ice Cream
1 cup coconut milk — you’ll actually want the layer of cream that’s at the top when you open it
1 cup chopped rhubarb (about 2-3 stalks depending on the size)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
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Peel the rhubarb before chopping it, then put the chopped pieces in a saucepan. Pour the sugar over the rhubarb and place on medium heat. This is the only part of the recipe that can get moderately complicated: You want to cook down the rhubarb until it’s a compote-like consistency, but in the beginning it may seem like you need to add liquid. You don’t. Just keep gradually stirring until the juices are released. Then once the whole thing starts bubbling, add in the anise seeds, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. In all honesty, I do most of this without measuring or looking at the time, proof that it’s hard to mess this step up.
In a separate bowl, measure out a cup of coconut cream from your can of coconut milk — basically the top layer from inside the can. Add in the rhubarb anise compote. Mix together well.
Place bowl in freezer. Stir every 10-15 minutes (this will keep the ice cream from clumping) until the mixture has fully frozen.
Foodie Underground, a project curated in part by Anna Brones, explores our relationship with the origin of our eats. Motivated by an unwavering belief that food should never be complicated or pretentious, Anna — author of vegetarian and GF primer The Culinary Cyclist, is serving up everything from the best veggie BBQ to a beginner's guide to pesto. Hungry yet?