Rhubarb Poached in Vanilla Syrup with Fromage Blanc

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Total Time
23 mins
Poaching rhubarb in vanilla syrup is one of life’s simple pleasures. But never tell anyone how easy it is, because they will thing you slaved all day over it. True, it takes some time to cut the rhubarb into tiny dice. Put some Paul Simon on and let his music take you somewhere while you – carefully because your knife is sharp – dice. Then, put the rhubarb into the syrup. The only trick is cooking time. If you see that some of your rhubarb pieces begin to fray, remove the pan from the heat. The rhubarb will cook in the residual heat of the syrup, which is why the cooking time is so approximate. As for the fresh cheese: use fromage blanc if you can find it. If you cannot, drain Greek yogurt for an hour or two, then use it in place of fromage blanc. You’ll need to measure the yogurt AFTER it has drained, so get 2 cups (500ml). ASTUCE: to peel or not to peel rhubarb, that is THE question. I peel tough stalks that are a second or third harvest from a plant. Small, first harvest rhubarb doesn’t need to be peeled. If the skin is very tough – and it can be so tough a knife will hardly go through it – peel the stalks. It’s easy to do – the peel doesn’t much like what is underneath it so it comes away easily and quickly!
Servings: 4 servings
  • 1-1/4 cups; 250g vanilla sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup; 65ml filtered or bottled water
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb peeled and cut into small dice (about 1/4-inch square), .75kg
  • 1-1/2 cups; 375-430g to 1-3/4 fresh cheese or drained yogurt
  • Fresh mint basil, or tarragon leaves – for garnish
  1. Mix the sugar, the vanilla bean and seeds, and the water together in a large saucepan and bring slowly to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil gently, stirring often, until all the sugar dissolves. Fold the rhubarb into the boiling syrup. It will seem as though there is too much rhubarb for the amount of syrup, but continue folding it gently as it cooks, and you will see that the rhubarb will decrease in volume as it cooks and releases liquid into the syrup.
  2. Cook the rhubarb just until it is tender, which will take 8 to 10 minutes, folding it almost
  3. constantly until there is enough liquid so the rhubarb is fully covered, and checking frequently to be sure it doesn’t cook too long. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  4. To serve, divide the fromage blanc or yogurt among 6 dessert bowls. Pour equal amounts of rhubarb syrup over the yogurt. Garnish each bowl with an herb leaf, and serve immediately.

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