Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

My first recollection of strawberry and rhubarb was at table full of handmade pies I spied while visiting Middlebury, Vermont with my grandmother and great aunt as a child. And each spring, the site of the first stalks of rhubarb take me back to the coolness of dewy grass across collegiate lawns, the soft warmth of the sun, and the delicious smell of newly baked fruit pies with their buttery crusts.

I love baking pies with their sweet-tart fruit fillings and crisp flavorful crust domed up above. But baking a pie and preparing a pie crust from scratch is a rather time consuming affair. While some turn to the ease of frozen pie crust, I just can't bring myself to stoop there. When you're accustomed to the buttery, flaky, flavorful homemade variety, grocery store crust just comes off tasting like chemicals. But I don't always have the time, and so there are 2 alternatives I often turn to. The first is to make a fruit crumble - it is simpler and faster than making a pie but still results in a crisp buttery crust that compliments the fruit perfectly. And the second, is even simpler, but does forgo the crust altogether. Though, paired with a scoop of ice cream or a crisp cookie, a fruit compote can be the perfect weeknight dessert.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Serves 4

2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups hulled strawberries (frozen will work)

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan. Warm over low heat until juices begin to release, then raise to a medium heat until juices begin to thicken and rhubarb is tender. Add strawberries and warm until heated through. If you like more distinct chunks of fruit you can take it off earlier, or if you'd prefer a more preserve like consistency continue to cook over a medium low heat until fruit begins to flake apart. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

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