Cardamom chia pudding + compote

Rhubarb is a fruit etched in memories for me. In the summer between my junior and senior years in high school I lived with a French mom and daughter in a little town outside of Dunkerque in Northern France. Chantal (the mom) did not speak English and her daughter was rarely home, so I learned French fast. I remember on my first day she pulled out a tin from the cupboard. It was a simple vanilla cake laced with pieces of rhubarb from her garden. Considering it was the first time I had ventured 3000 miles away from my family in California, that cake made me feel incredibly welcomed and comforted. To this day, every time I smell rhubarb I remember her kitchen and the cake from the cupboard. 

But, I also remember Mr. Williams. My parents met him and his wife when I was very young and we'd go to their house to eat and play Yahtzee (the board game). I loved playing Yahtzee with them. They were so gentle and kind. Like the grandparents I wish I had had. Eventually, Mrs. Williams passed away, so we'd visit Mr. Williams on his own. On the way to his house, we'd stop and pick up pie. His favorite was strawberry rhubarb. We'd eat it with ice cream; sometimes even with chocolate ice cream which seems like an odd combo now, but it didn't matter. Now, I think of how sad he must have been after losing Mrs. Williams. I couldn't understand the immensity of his loss then. But, I do know how special sharing strawberry-rhubarb pie with him felt to me as a child and how the memory of it now makes my heart smile. 

Below, you'll find a healthier take on a dessert pudding. Fragrant from cardamom and creamy from chia. And full of the memories of rhubarb. 

You might get a little extra compote with the recipe below. It'd also be good over steel cut oats or mixed into whole milk yogurt. I usually top my chia pudding with a dollop of nut butter; however, it is not pictured above because my nut butter currently has turmeric in it, so it is a funky yellow color that wouldn't quite be photo-ready. 

Cardamom chia pudding + compote
serves 2

Chia pudding:
2 whole cardamom pods, smashed with the back of a knife
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS chia seeds

1/2 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 pint strawberries, quartered
2-3 TBS grade B maple syrup

Topping: nut butter (optional)

For the pudding, combine cardamom and coconut milk in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. When the milk just starts to boil, take it off the heat and let cool. Strain into a glass jar. Mix in vanilla and chia seeds. Chill for 1 hour or overnight. 

For the compote, combine the rhubarb and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. When the rhubarb starts to boil, bring heat down to a simmer. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes, until it is soft and broken up. You can help it along by smashing the rhubarb with the back of a spoon. Taste to be sure the rhubarb is not too sour and adjust maple syrup, maybe adding 1/2-1 TBS more. Take pan off the heat and stir in strawberries. Let cool. The strawberries will bleed into the compote as it sits and cools. 

Once the chia pudding is set, spoon into a jam jar to fill bottom fourth. Top with two good spoonfuls of compote. Then repeat to get 4 layers. Top with some nut butter and enjoy.