Rhubarb is not exotic or new but it's just one of those ingredients that never made an appearance in the cooking adventures of my youth. So it was a bit of a surprise to see it in the bag of spring offerings. Rhubarb seems to me to be one of those old fashioned vegetables. I'm sure my grandmother would know what to do with these stalks. I do remember seeing numerous recipes in old church spiral bound cookbooks, usually involving pies, crumbles and cobblers. The most common use was to pair it up with the first spring fruit, strawberries. The strawberry's sweetness balanced out the rhubarb's wincing tartness. I just didn't have enough to make a pie. Luckily for me my recent batch of library cookbooks included Wild Flavors by Didi Emmons and the recipe for Coconut Rice Pudding with Rhubarb.
Coconut Rice Pudding with Rhubarb
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
3 cups coconut milk (two 13-ounce cans will do)
2 - 3 cups soy milk, almond milk or half-and-half
3 large stalks rhubarb (about 3/4 pound), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
1. To make the pudding, combine the rice, sugar, cardamom, salt, 2 cups soy milk, almond milk, or half-and-half, and coconut milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover, and let cook until thick and the rice is tender, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring from time to time to keep the pudding from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. If it does stick to the saucepan, add more soy milk, almond milk, or half-and-half as needed.
2. Transfer the pudding to a container with a lid and let it come to room temperature uncovered, then chill in the refrigerator, covered.
3. Meanwhile, to make the topping, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat. Let the mixture come to a simmer, and let simmer until the rhubarb softens while still holding its shape, about 5 minutes. Transfer the rhubarb to a container with a lid and let it come to room temperature uncovered, then chill in the refrigerator, covered.
4. To serve, spoon the rice pudding into clear glasses, then spoon the rhubarb mixture over the rice pudding.
A couple of notes to the recipe above. I used everything I had on hand so, 1 cup of brown rice instead of mixing the two, two 14 ounce cans of lite coconut milk, and 2 cups of 2% milk instead of the soy milk.
Additionally I wandered far afield of the topping recipe. I wanted more of a rhubarb sauce instead of a slightly cooked rhubarb topping. So 2/3 cup of sugar instead of 3 tablespoons and cooked it until it broke down into a chunky sauce.
Wow! The coconut rice pudding is luscious on it's own but adding the distinctive sweet and sour rhubarb sauce turns it into an exquisite dessert. Not only that but this sauce would be great on oatmeal, yogurt, and ice cream. So thank you CSA farmers, rhubarb rocks.