You’ll want to avoid using too many strawberries in this, as they can intrude on the rhubarb’s pleasant mustiness. Just include enough to provide depth and sweetness. With the recipe as a starting point, judge the sweetness or sourness of your fruit, and balance the rhubarb-to-strawberry ratio accordingly.(Serves 4, or 6 if you spoon it over vanilla ice cream or sweetened ricotta)
5 or 6 stalks of rhubarb (try to find ones that are thinnish and mostly deep red; a little green won’t hurt, but you want them to be sweet)
About a dozen medium-size, sweet strawberries, hulled and cut in half
The juice from 2 blood oranges and the zest from 1 (if you can still find them in the market this late in the season; otherwise use regular oranges, though they don’t have the blood variety’s sour perfume, which marries very well with the rhubarb)
1/2 cup sugar
A generous splash of grappa (about 2 tablespoons)
A few generous scrapings of fresh nutmeg
A pinch of salt
Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and cook at a medium boil, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is just tender, about 5 to 8 minutes (to cook the rhubarb only until it’s tender but still more or less in chunks, rather than reducing it to a thready consistency, which can happen before you know it, you must keep an eye on it; however, there is something to be said for the sauciness and lusciousness of mushy rhubarb, and it strangely doesn’t loose taste when cooked to that state, so the choice is really up to you). When the cooking is done, see if you need to balance the sweet and tart notes, especially if you’re not using blood oranges: Taste for a good balance between sweet and sour, adding a squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of sugar, or some of both. Serve warm, as is, in a dessert bowl, or spooned over vanilla ice cream or sweetened ricotta (a cup of ricotta mixed with a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar and a pinch of cinnamon).
This dish keeps about 4 days and tastes, in my opinion, just as good cold, straight from the refrigerator. I also love it spooned over toasted Italian bread for breakfast, almost like jam.