What to buy: Look for rhubarb that is free of blemishes; trim off any leaves, and, if the stalk appears fibrous, peel as you would celery. Lemongrass can be found at farmers’ and Asian markets; peel off any dry, damaged outer leaves. If you can’t find lemongrass, substitute 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest instead.
- 1Place the rhubarb, orange juice, lemongrass, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium, nonreactive bowl; toss to evenly combine, then set aside at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
- 2Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, strawberries, and vanilla pod and seeds in a small bowl; toss to evenly combine, then set aside at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
- 3Transfer the rhubarb mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to bubble and the rhubarb releases its juices, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb starts breaking apart, about 5 minutes.
- 4Stir the strawberry mixture into the rhubarb mixture and simmer uncovered for an additional 5 minutes. (Don’t stir too often—you want the strawberries to hold their shape.) Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla pod, and set aside to cool. Refrigerate the cooled compote in a container with a tightfitting lid for up to 4 days.