Here in Minneapolis, otherwise known as gardening Zone 4, we jump for joy when we see ramps and rhubarb. Rhubarb is the first thing to come up in my garden and it gives me tremendous joy! A sign of life, hope for warm weather and it just happens to be delicious. I love the tartness, combined with a bit of sugar and vanilla it is near perfection, which is why I made this rhubarb and vanilla bean compote.
I just pull off a few stalks, cut the poisonous leaves away, wash off the dirt and slice it up. It is wonderful raw dipped in a bit of sugar, but I generally prefer to cook it. Just toss it with a few tablespoons of sugar and half a vanilla bean.
Cook it over low heat for only a few minutes until soft. If you over do it the rhubarb gets mushy. Serve the rhubarb vanilla bean compote over ice cream, as a sauce for desserts like springtime crêpes or angel food cake.