Forced rhubarb, saffron & honey granola pots
The drizzle has set in. The mud is endless. When it isn’t raining the mire freezes rock hard so it’s treacherous underfoot either way. A chill wind whips around your jacket collar and down your back. Scarf tales, helpless, just get blown about your face. Even the dog shivers. We are in the depths of the Hungry Gap: the long, cold, soggy stretch of the year when the winter crops are virtually spent and spring seemingly a lifetime away. But not in Yorkshire.
In Yorkshire, at least in the triangle cornered by Rothwell, Wakefield and Morley (through there’s some debate about exactly where the triangle is with Leeds and Bradford claiming a corner too), they are in the heady rush of harvest time. It is forced rhubarb season. Forcing rhubarb is quite a faff; I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone but the most committed allotmenteer. After a couple of years good solid growing time, without harvesting, light is excluded from the plant in late winter, usually by putting a terracotta pot over it, but commercially by bringing the plant into a dark shed. The lack of light forces the plant to grow long, thin stems and almost no leaf, using all its carbohydrate stores and creating a bright pink and deliciously sweet crop. I, needless to say, don’t do it – my rhubarb patch is far too feeble.
But I do buy it during the January – March season and use it however tenuous the excuse. A word of caution: just because it’s in season and in the supermarkets does not mean it comes from Yorkshire. Despite such local and exemplary sources, some supermarkets buy their forced rhubarb from Holland. Yorkshire rhubarb has protected status (like Parma and Parmesan), but there are just 11 rhubarb growers left in the Yorkshire Triangle. I think it would be a shame if it all ended up coming from industrial Dutch farms rather than the sheds of the North. So check the label.
Forced rhubarb is delicate in flavour – not as sour as the main crop stuff – and flirtingly feminine in colour. It’s ideal, therefore, for a light and dainty dessert . All very #pursuepretty, but let’s not hold that against it. Here, I pair it with saffron for added interest and a grown-up honey granola for crunch. Is it a pudding? Is it breakfast? I’d happily have it for either – and ideally, both.
Also worth noting, best not to meddle with the honey/oil/oat mix on the granola, but the rest is up for grabs so switch out hazelnuts for cashews or figs for apricots and so on as you prefer.
Rhubarb, saffron & honey granola pots
A simple, healthy and vibrant pudding or breakfast using Yorkshire's favourite export - forced rhubarb.
- 150g runny honey
- 80ml sunflower oil
- 275g jumbo oats
- 50g sultana
- 100g dried figs, chopped
- 40g almonds, roughly chopped
- 40g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 40g pumpkin seeds
- 40g sunflower seeds
- 40g sesame seeds
- 40g linseed
- 3 stems forced rhubarb
- 1 orange, juice and zest
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt
- Pinch saffron
- Honey to serve
- Start with the granola. Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Pour the honey and sunflower oil into a small saucepan and heat gently until the honey has melted enough for you to whisk it into the oil.
- Put the oats in a large roasting tin. Pour the honey and oil mixture over the oats, stir it all together then spread them out so the oats are in a thin layer. You want to make sure all the oats are well covered in oil and not piled high.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring half way so that all the oats are evenly golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes then add all the other ingredients to the roasting pan and combine. Leave to cool completely before transferring to in an airtight container. The granola will keep for up to 2 weeks, but you’ll have eaten it all long before then.
- Meanwhile, put the juice of the orange and its zest in a small saucepan. Set over a medium to high heat and boil for 1-2 minutes until slightly reduced. Chop the rhubarb into 5cm pieces and add to the pan, turn the heat down and poach for 2-3 minutes or until the rhubarb is just giving. Remove from the heat and chill until needed.
- Mix the saffron strands with 1 tsp of hot water then stir into the yogurt.
- To serve, spoon a little of the rhubarb into a pot, top with some yogurt and follow with granola. Repeat the layers until the pot is full then finish with a little honey.
Incidentally, this was a recipe from my recent Healthy & Simple Seasonal Suppers cookery class. If you’d like to come to a class (which would obviously be wonderful), you can find dates and book by clicking here.