I love flavor combinations that rely on the vagaries of nature for their growing seasons to overlap. Undependable and fleeting, they're like the friend who you can never count on to show up but who always charms you when he does. You find them in asparagus and zucchini, lemon verbena and blueberries and at this time of year, rhubarb and blood orange.
It was around the time we decided to run a blood orange theme on the site that Rose Gray, the chef with Ruth Rogers of the River Cafe in London, died. And I was reminded of one of my favorite recipes from Gray and Rogers's books, a simple dessert of roasted rhubarb and blood orange glazed with vanilla bean seeds, sugar, and some of the fruits' own juices. Blood oranges and rhubarb also always seemed emblematic of Gray and Rogers's cooking style -- the brave flavors, the generosity, and a lusty palette not often seen on London's gray canvas.
Adapted from "Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes From the London River Cafe" by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the rhubarb into 2-to-2 1/2-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of half the orange over the rhubarb and then squeeze the juice of the whole orange into the bowl. Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds and place both in the bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
2. Pour the rhubarb into a baking dish and arrange the pieces so that they lie flat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla pods. Serve with creme fraiche.
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