French Fridays with Dorie
I’ve been trying to no avail to think up some witty prose about this rhubarb parfait to share with you. Rhubarb just isn’t that funny. In fact, it usually looks a bit scary sitting in the produce section after its long flight or truck ride to the market. To my eyes it appears a bit jet-lagged while it taunts the little children who have no idea what it is. What is that? Red celery? Growing up here in California, where we don’t grow it in our backyards, rhubarb is usually relegated to a tiny selection of a dozen or so stalks in the ‘exotic vegetable’ section. The section children instinctively know to steer clear of.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I could say that I had ever tasted rhubarb on its own. It seems someone way back when got the bright idea to pair it with strawberry and that was all she wrote. Strawberry-rhubarb jam, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry-rhubarb muffins, blah blah blah. Thats all I had ever tried. Yes, rhubarb does bring that certain tang to strawberry confections and takes them to another level but surely it is a taste that deserves to step out on its own as well. Children should not be scared of rhubarb.
In California there is only a small window of opportunity to enjoy the best rhubarb. When I see it in the market and it doesn’t look too wilted or rumply I try to buy it and try something new with it — something that doesn’t involve the intrusion of strawberries. Last year’s rhubarb pickles were quite a hit at home and proved to me that rhubarb doesn’t require strawberries at all. Our French Fridays with Dorie syllabus featured roasted rhubarb at just the correct moment as the rhubarb showed up at market this week looking quite fresh — not scary at all — so I gave it a try as the base for a simple and elegant to-go parfait using some canning jars.
As Dorie suggested, roasting preserved the texture (somewhat) and intensified the flavor as you would expect from roasting. The technique is super easy so it is worth a go and would make a fun impromptu ‘show off’ type move as a warm topping to simple vanilla ice cream for dinner guests. This particular parfait topping has a few more extra steps than a plain whipped cream but its light, elegant result is well worth it. You might be tempted to ‘soup up’ the parfait with raisins, granola, etc. but let me tell you it is entirely unnecessary. This rhubarb should be the star of this show. (Strawberry will surely get its chance another time. )