Start with about a pound of fresh rhubarb stalks. Sometimes the rhubarb will be pale pink; sometimes a darker red – doesn’t matter, just clean the stalks, then chop the rhubarb into ¼-inch slices. Pile the chopped rhubarb into a saucepan.
Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, and stir well. Now go away for a while, and let the sugar draw liquid out of the rhubarb. Leave it until you can definitely see liquid in the pan, about 1 hour.
Once the sugar has done its magic, stir in ½ teaspoon of cardamom, and put the saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and stir well to dissolve any remaining sugar crystals. Then reduce heat, and simmer the rhubarb, uncovered, until it is tender: this will take 15-20 minutes.
Taste it: if it’s too tart for you, add a bit more sugar, bring it to a boil again, then reduce heat. The compote will be partly chunky, looking a bit like lumpy pink applesauce. The pieces of rhubarb should be completely tender, and the compote itself will be fruity, sweet, and tart.
Serve it warm or cold, on its own, or as a side dish with something like roasted pork. It’s also terrific over yogurt or ice cream, or even pound cake. Keep the compote, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze.