Rhubarb and Kumquat Compote

Making this compote deeply appeals to the kid in me: the vibrant crimson of the rhubarb stalks cut into building-block forms; the almost-gaudy orange of the kumquats, sliced thin to look like wheels;  and sparkly sugar crystals. Geometric shapes in brilliant colors all tossed together - cooking should be playful and here it really is.

David Tanis's Platter of Figs cookbook is endlessly inspiring to me: the recipes, the photos, the simple seasonality and poetry of everything he cooks. I love both rhubarb and kumquats for their quirky tangy flavors, and Tanis combines the two in a delicious compote. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream for an unexpected Spring dessert.

from David Tanis's Platter of Figs
  • 2 pounds rhubarb
  • 12 kumquats
  • 1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a paring knife, peel the rough strands from the rhubarb stalks and cut them into 4 inch batons. (Next time, I think I might also chop the batons to make for a less fibrous texture).

  beauty can even be found in the rhubarb strings destined for our compost pile

Slice kumquats. Toss rhubarb and kumquats in sugar and place everything in a low baking dish.


Bake for about 45 minutes until everything is tender. Let cool and serve at room temperature.


  1. What a good idea! I loooove rhubarb! I'm going to link to this post from my Glamour.com blog, Vitamin G, tomorrow. I hope it's OK to use the last photo to show readers what to expect the final product to look like. I'll give you attribution and send some traffic your way. :) Beautiful blog. Now I'm craving rhubarb!

  2. Thanks Sarah. Feel free to link to the post. It's always good to spread the love about rhubarb!

  3. Oh rhubarb, I do love thee. I couldn't resist yesterday either and made some rhubrab fools.

    Great idea, though - I hadn't thought about putting kumquats in too. Looks yummy.

  4. Gorgeous! My rhubarb is almost harvestable. I've got so many plans for them; might as well add one more!

  5. Oh mighty rhubarb!!! So beautiful and tasty looking, I saw some just few days ago at the market, I can't wait to put my hands on it ;)
    I'm saving this recipe to try it out soon.

  6. Aw this compote sounds so good! Such a shame the rhubarb season has not yet started here... I can't wait for it! And I'm almost sure that when rhubarb will be finally available, kumquats will be gone from our supermarkets :D You have to hunt for food in Latvia, LOL :D

  7. I am so glad to see that I am not alone in my love of rhubarb!

  8. AnonymousJune 02, 2010

    such a delightful, spring-y combination! can't wait to try it ... once i can get my hands on some rhubarb and kumquats ... which may be easier said than done here in southeast Texas. adore your blog!



  9. AnonymousMay 20, 2011

    Beautiful photographs. I'm working my way through both Tanis books right now. Does "batons" in this case translate into cutting each four inch length of rhubarb into four chunkier matchstick lengths?

  10. Fristrom,

    Thanks for stoppping by! Isn't Tanis great? I am so looking forward to his new cookbook!

    To answer your question... I did cut the rhubarb into matchstick sized pieces, and I think next time I make the compote, I may just chop the rhubarb more. I still had some fibrous strands after cooking. I love the flavor of this dish. I hope you enjoy!


  11. AnonymousMay 22, 2011

    I made it twice. The second time I was more particular about the de-stringing, and I sliced it thinly, like I was cutting up a leek. The rhubarb basically turned to mush, but once it was all mixed together it had the consistency of a good orange marmalade. It's definitely not as photogenic, but it sure is tasty. Like being kicked in the head by a citrus mule.

  12. Fristrom, Thanks for that feedback - always really helpful. I like the idea of that marmadae-y texture. Your "citrus mule" comment cracked me up. There really is a serious tang to it, right?


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