Every Spring I get SO excited for rhubarb, I always push the season a little bit. We don't get rhubarb in NY until about June, and when I saw these cute skinny little stalks at the store the other day I couldn't resist...They were so perfectly pink.
I got it home and let it sit in my refrigerator. It somehow seemed too precious to use so I'd open the drawer every day just to say hi - happy that it was there, but not sure how I wanted to cook it. In the end, I roasted the rhubarb very simply with just a bit of sugar, vanilla, and lemon until it was soft and yielding but not falling apart - ready to top my morning yogurt or something a little fancier (but still quite simple) like this honey sweetened panna cotta.
Panna cotta has a bad wrap for being boring and rubbery, but a properly set panna cotta is creamy and light, and a totally dreamy base for just about any seasonal fruit. I made this one with a bit of kefir subbed in for the milk but you could use buttermilk or plain yogurt thinned with a bit of milk instead. The cultured dairy adds some tanginess that cuts the sweetness of the honey and really nicely compliments the tart rhubarb.The pistachios add a nice pop of color and crunch, but you could sub just about any nut or even a bit of bee pollen if you like.
Both recipes below call for a vanilla bean, but I'll let you in on a little secret - I used the same bean for both recipes. I used it first in the panna cotta, then rinsed it off to roast with the rhubarb, there was plenty of flavor to go around!
Honey Panna Cotta
This lightly sweet and tangy panna cotta is the perfect base for any seasonal fruit, but in the early Spring, Roasted Rhubarb is where it’s at. The panna cotta is slightly adapted from the Chamomile Honey Panna Cotta from Sweeter off the Vine, which would also be super delicious with some roasted rhubarb on top. This is a great dinner party dessert that you can definitely make a day ahead. Make both components and store them in the fridge - top each panna cotta with the rhubarb and pistachios just before serving.
1 cup (240ml) kefir or buttermilk
1 (1/4oz/7g) envelope unflavored, powdered gelatin
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup (60ml) mild flavored honey I used Blackberry Honey from my pals at Old Blue Raw Honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Measure the kefir and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top, but do not stir. Let the gelatin soften until the grains look wet and like they are beginning to dissolve, 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the cream, honey, salt and vanilla bean in a saucepan set over medium heat until just barely simmering. Stir occasionally to dissolve the honey. Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean, scraping the seeds into the pot.
Add the milk and gelatin and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Divide the mixture between 6 ramekins or glasses. Cover and chill until set, at least 4 hours and up to overnight. If you are going to leave them overnight, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap.
To unmold the panna cottas, run a thin knife around the top edge of each ramekin to release the sides, and invert it onto a plate. You may have to shake the ramekin gently to get the panna cotta to release onto the plate. Top each panna cotta with a spoonful pf rhubarb and it’s juices and sprinkle of chopped pistachios. Alternately, serve the panna cottas straight from their ramekins with the garnishes on top.
1/2 (225g) pound thin rhubarb stalks
1/2 cup (50g) granulated sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split
1/2 cup chopped pistachios, to serve
Heat oven to 375ºF.
Slice the rhubarb into 2-3 inch lengths. Toss it in a baking dish with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean. Roast until soft and juicy but not falling apart, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool before serving.