My mother often made a rhubarb sauce in the spring to have on hand as a treat, usually with vanilla ice cream. Rhubarb is often paired with strawberries to temper its tartness, but as I get older, I appreciate a bit of tartiness in a woman (or a man, for that matter), and certainly in my compote. Although thyme is usually served in savory dishes, with rhubarb it adds an earthiness and depth of flavor that takes this beyond a typical sweet treat. In this super simple recipe, the thyme flavor is subtle because I still want the rhubarb to be the star of the show, but you could play with it to suit your taste. I love this compote best for breakfast spooned on toast, over a scone, on pancakes, or swirled into yogurt. But Mom was on to something pairing it with vanilla ice cream. - Margy@hidethecheese —Margy@hidethecheese
Test Kitchen Notes
This pink compote is very pretty. The little flecks of thyme add a subtle herbiness. Adjust the sugar to the sweetness of your rhubarb to get your desired level of tartness. - Stephanie
stalks rhubarb, scrubbed and sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
minced fresh thyme
In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar and let it sit for about 10 minutes. This will pull some of the liquid out of the rhubarb so you will need less water when you cook it.
In a small saucepan, mix the rhubarb with the lemon zest and thyme. Add a few tablespoons of water to make sure that the bottom of the pot is entirely coated with water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until the rhubarb is very soft, about 20 minutes. Check the pan every few minutes to make sure that there is enough liquid to maintain a simmer. If needed, add a bit more water.
When it is done, mash the rhubarb a bit, but leave some chunks. Scoop the compote into a jar and let it cool in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.