Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool

Fresh Rhubarb and Strawberries

It’s Spring Fling time again and this week we’re talking about rhubarb.  You may remember that I came to know rhubarb for the first time only a couple of years ago, but it’s been a love affair ever since.  I love its tart, astringent nature and while most people won’t eat it until it’s been cooked and sweetened, I love to pop a few pieces in my mouth while chopping it up for compote, or pie, or delicious Rhubarb Blueberry Turnovers.

To celebrate rhubarb this week, I decided to combine it with some of our extra-sweet local strawberries and a bit of local honey to make a compote.  I then layered the delicious compote with extra sliced berries and lightly sweetened whipped cream to make a wonderful new-to-me dessert called a fool.  I don’t know why it’s called a fool (although I’m sure Wikipedia does), but move over Strawberry Shortcake, this Strawberry Rhubarb Fool is now my favorite spring dessert!

So what is rhubarb, exactly? Botanically, it’s a vegetable, but it was classified as a fruit by a U.S. Customs Court in 1947.  In the United States, it’s widely used in desserts, so I guess the fruit classification kind of makes sense here.  According to The Food Encyclopedia, rhubarb is often used in savory dishes in parts of Europe and the Middle East. I’d love to see some savory rhubarb recipes if any of you care to share!

The leaves of the rhubarb plant can be toxic, so if you grow it at home, be sure to use only the stalks in cooking.  As you can see from the photo above, some grocery-store rhubarb comes with parts of the leaves attached, so trim the stalks before chopping the rhubarb for this recipe.

Strawberries, Rhubarb, and Honey

Making the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote is simple and only takes three ingredients: rhubarb, strawberries, and just enough honey to sweeten.

Making Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Combine it all in a saucepan with a bit of water and simmer until the fruit breaks down and the mixture thickens a bit.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Once it’s thickened, let it cool, then refrigerate until it’s completely chilled.  You can then use this compote for anything!  I love it spooned over Greek yogurt and I bet it would be a great addition to Strawberry Shortcake.

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool

My favorite way to use the compote is in this simple, delicious, and beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Fool.  If you prefer, the compote can be gently stirred into the whipped cream rather than layered.  It’s delicious and beautiful either way – the choice is yours.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool
Serves 6

1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced, divided
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
stevia or powdered sugar, to taste

For the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote:

Combine rhubarb, half the strawberries (reserve the other half for layering in the dessert), honey, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes until most of the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and let cool then place in a covered container and refrigerate for a couple hours or until completely chilled.

To assemble the Strawberry-Rhubarb Fools:

Whip cream, vanilla, and a bit of stevia or powdered sugar (to taste) until soft peaks form.  Layer compote, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream in clear glass dishes, dessert glasses, or wine glasses.  Enjoy!

How to Participate in Spring Fling

Have a tip or recipe to share about rhubarb, or one of the other spring farm- or garden-to-table crops on our Spring Fling lineup? Leave your tip or recipe in a comment on this post, and copy it onto the comments on all the participating blogs (listed below) so that the maximum number of people enjoy your idea. Links back to your own blog, or sites you love, are encouraged (older posts are fine).  The more the better!

The schedule of weekly themes:

April 20: Asparagus
May 4: Rhubarb
May 18: Artichokes
June 1: Strawberries
June 15: Peas

Rhubarb Tips, Tricks, and Recipes from my Spring Fling Friends:

  1. Karina

    Nicole, this looks beautiful! As a child, I ate stalks of rhubarb raw, dipped in sugar. Today I make a crumble with strawberries, and quinoa flakes. I love the sweet-tart combo. Here’s the recipe: Happy Spring!

    10:42 am  May 4th, 2011
  2. Maria

    I do love rhubarb and combined with strawberries it makes the most delicious dessert! Growing up in Finland we used to eat rhubarb straight from the garden or mum would make sweet rhubarb soup which is still my favourite! This looks beautiful and oh so delicious!

    10:48 am  May 4th, 2011

    I’ve never worked with rhubarb before. This dessert looks so pretty and I love the idea of using strawberries too!

    10:48 am  May 4th, 2011
  4. Nicole

    Karina – Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to head over and check out your crumble!
    Maria – Sweet Rhubarb Soup sounds wonderful!! I might have to experiment and come up with something similar 🙂
    Nancy – It took me years to finally try it because I didn’t grow up eating it. But it’s so delicious! I hope you give it a try this season!

    10:58 am  May 4th, 2011
  5. Joanne Jones

    That looks so incredibly good! I absolutely love rhubarb, but am allergic to it. My mouth waters as I look at the pictures above, and know that I can’t eat it. Sigh, it’s really really really not fair, but I am so glad someone gets to enjoy such a wonderful fruit! Eat an extra helping for me….

    11:07 am  May 4th, 2011
  6. Ruby

    Looks so yummy and refreshing! Perfect post for this time of year. 🙂

    ps. I wonder if a chipotle addition would enhance the flavor? Had that in a pastry recently and it was super yum 😉

    11:43 am  May 4th, 2011
  7. Julie (Bananas for Bourbon)

    How did you know I was craving something exactly like this?! I’ve been wanting to make some sort of strawberry jammy/compotey concoction. Just been craving it for some reason. And between the fresh strawberries in my CSA box today and this recipe, it’s fate! Also, there’s a lemon cake at home and is seriously jonesing for some compote topping. Thanks!

    I already shared the link on your facebook page (thanks for checking it out!), but I’ll throw my rhubarb hat in the ring with my blueberry rhubarb pie:

    I’m ashamed to admit I used frozen rhubarb, but better frozen than none! I will be making it again with fresh and I can’t wait!

    12:32 pm  May 4th, 2011
  8. Andrea

    This is SO beautiful. Gorgeous photos. 🙂
    I love simple, delicious, real desserts. This is definitely on that list.

    12:49 pm  May 4th, 2011
  9. Nicole

    I’ll be referencing back to this when our Rhubarb finally comes up at the beginning of June. I am collecting recipes now as I always have more than I know what to do with each year. I keep cutting it back to keep the stalks tender all the way until it freezes up in September, but I am usually Rhubarbed out before this happens.

    2:33 pm  May 4th, 2011
  10. Lexi

    I have a savory rhubarb recipe here:
    It’s a relish that’s great on crostini with a little goat cheese. It’s not the gorgeous red of your fool (there’s unsweetened chocolate in it) but it is quite delicious.

    2:39 pm  May 4th, 2011
  11. Melynda@Moms Sunday Cafe

    Rhubarb? I love this stuff, here is a delicious recipe, and it is a winner too!

    5:39 pm  May 4th, 2011
  12. Dawn

    This looks divine and so easy to make! Can’t wait to try 🙂

    One of my family’s favorite rhubarb recipes is a shortcake with fresh rosemary, rhubarb and strawberries:

    6:17 pm  May 4th, 2011
  13. Tom Corson-Knowles

    Love, love love strawberry rhubarb pie! It’s so delicious and easy to make.

    6:17 pm  May 4th, 2011
  14. Carly

    I made a Raspberry-Rhubarb Fool for April Fool’s Day! It was so delicious! My cream layer had decadent custard folded into it, so it was a rich but refreshing dessert. Check it out here:

    8:40 pm  May 4th, 2011
  15. Jessica

    Oh wow Nicole! This sounds phenomenal! Growing up my grandmother used to have Rhubarb growing like crazy out in the garden and we never made anything like this! We would make jam and pie of course, but this Compote sounds perfect!

    Stunning photos as always! 🙂

    12:16 am  May 5th, 2011
  16. angela

    My mother used to grow rhubarb and always cooked it with a soft banana, or some dried figs, it took away the acidity of the rhubarb.
    Having grown up in England, with fools eaten throughout the summer months, I never thought to question its etymology, though I always liked the sound of it.
    Your photos are so beautiful, I have just bought an SLR and am using your pictures for inspiration (in fact your blog as a whole!)

    12:41 am  May 5th, 2011
  17. Gina @ Skinnytaste

    Nicole, ever since you mentioned strawberry rhubarb fool I couldn’t get it out of my head. If only I could figure out a healthy low fat way to make whipped cream. I may try with yogurt but I’m sure it won’t be the same as yours! Love the photos!

    5:45 am  May 5th, 2011
  18. Kristy Lynn

    Umm, yes please!

    10:08 am  May 5th, 2011
  19. Anne Marie

    I’m trying not to get to envious here in MN where I can’t find any rhubarb yet! It’ll be here soon, though. I can’t wait to make the Rhubarb Sour Cream Muffins I made last year ( ) or this Rhubarb Yogurt Cake:

    1:01 pm  May 5th, 2011
  20. The Teacher Cooks

    I have never cooked or had rhubarb. I guess from all the comments that I am really missing out.

    6:57 am  May 6th, 2011
  21. Recipe contests

    Now that is a dessert!! So simple and yet it looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    Take care,
    — Chelsey

    2:23 pm  May 6th, 2011
  22. Richard

    To tell the truth for someone who likes to cook, I have never been a desertsy kind of guy and I have never cooked with rhubarb either. But I gotta say that this dish looks delicious! I will have to take the plunge and try this! I usually make something that looks like this with Greek yogurt and some nice preserves. The funny part is that when I was a kid and causing a lot of trouble at my grandpa’s house he would always come into the room and say: “Alright! What’s all the rhubarb about?” I guess that is why I have had an aversion to rhubarb recipes. As usual Nicole great post and really nice recipe!

    4:09 pm  May 6th, 2011
  23. QuincesandthePea

    I made these rhubarb crepes a couple weeks ago and have been eating the compote with greek yogurt too since then.

    Unfortunately, I’m all out now as rhubarb was almost impossible to find here in Washington, DC this spring

    6:27 pm  May 6th, 2011
  24. Kathleen

    Very cool. Could not get rhubarb in my neighborhood for two years so I made this Champagne Hibiscus Cocktail that tastes of raspberry and rhubarb for Spring Fling.

    5:43 pm  May 7th, 2011
  25. Kathleen

    sorry, if you want the recipe for Champagne Hibiscus Cocktai you can find it here at

    5:45 pm  May 7th, 2011
  26. Karen @ Forty Cloves

    Hi, Nicole. I love rhubarb and I often use compotes like this to sweeten greek yogurt, as you suggested. The yogurts that are pre-sweetened with fruit are so full of sugar. This is a much healthier alternative and, topped with some homemade granola, so delicious that I can trick myself into thinking I’m having a dessert!

    5:39 am  May 8th, 2011
  27. OliveOilExp

    I love the rhubarb and strawberry combination. Thanks for sharing. Yummy photos too.

    10:41 am  May 8th, 2011
  28. QuincesandthePea

    If you have extra compote you can make these rhubarb bars:

    They’re like lemon bars but with rhubarb instead. It was worth spending most of yesterday trying to track down this elusive vegetable.

    11:55 am  May 8th, 2011
  29. Christie

    I love sweetening the mixture with honey! Another recipe idea: after making the compote I topped it with a mixture of rolled oats, whole wheat flour, honey and butter and popped it in the oven to crisp the top. So, so tasty!

    10:34 am  May 14th, 2011
  30. Nicole

    Christie: That sounds great!

    11:03 am  May 14th, 2011
  31. marla

    This is such a great snack or dessert – now craving rhubarb 🙂

    9:32 pm  May 16th, 2011
  32. susan

    what a simple and tasty looking dessert. love this, Nicole!

    11:06 am  May 16th, 2012
  33. Marlys @ This and That

    This sounds wonderful… I am pinning it and will be making it soon. Shared this one my facebook page too. I hope I tagged you right.

    10:20 am  Jun 29th, 2013
  34. Rita

    I have made the rhubarb strawberry compote many times and it was delicious. I have also made a plain cake from scratch and topped it with a rhubarb,brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream. I also make a preserve
    by cutting the rhubarb into 1″ pieces and putting it in jars (sealers)along with some orange slices (rind and all) and making a sweet sugar/ water mix 1 cup sugar to 2 cups water, boil and pour over the rhubarb, seal jars and process as you would any fruit canning. This is very delicious and was a cheap desert when the money was tight and we had a large family to feed. We also made a boiled version also with the orange slices and made a jam consistency to be used on toast or very delish on pancakes with sour cream. Give these a try you won’t be sorry.

    2:26 am  Jun 24th, 2016
Leave a Comment