Sauvignon blanc jelly with lemon verbena & baked rhubarb

Recipe: Ruth Pretty Photos: Murray Lloyd

This is a light, cleansing dessert, however it’s also lovely served with softly whipped cream. Remember, only cook with wine you would be delighted to drink.

If lemon verbena is not available, substitute fresh mint leaves. Alpine strawberries grow wild year-round in my garden and look pretty here as a garnish.


800ml water
450g caster sugar
18 lemon verbena leaves
25g gelatine powder
500ml sauvignon blanc
1 tablespoon finely sliced lemon verbena leaves
Roasted Rhubarb (recipe follows)
alpine strawberries and edible flowers
for garnish (optional)


If you are lucky enough to have rose geranium (Pelargonium capitatum) in the garden, add 8 leaves to the rhubarb while it is cooking to add a soft rose flavour.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Sprinkle 60g sugar on the base of a 1.5-2 litre gratin dish. Spread 500g trimmed rhubarb, cut in 3-4cm lengths, over the sugar and then sprinkle 65g sugar on top. Add ¼ cup cold water and shake the dish to distribute it.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes or until tender. Cool and let sit in the fridge overnight for flavours to develop. Remove rose geranium leaves before using. Serves 8


Put 740ml water, caster sugar and the whole lemon verbena leaves in a small pot set over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and leave to sit at room temperature for 5–10 minutes to infuse.

Put 60ml (2 tablespoons) water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine on top. When the mixture has formed a “sponge”, microwave for 20-30 seconds on medium-high until the mixture is liquid and clear.

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Pour gelatine and sauvignon blanc into syrup and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature and pour through a sieve into a low-sided bowl.

Put in the fridge until the jelly is just beginning to set. Stir through the sliced lemon verbena leaves and refrigerate until set (about 4 hours) or overnight.

In the prettiest presentation bowl you have, and beginning with rhubarb and a little of the juice, layer dessertspoons full of jelly followed by rhubarb followed by jelly until the bowl is full. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Decorate with alpine strawberries or edible flowers and serve in individual dessert dishes. Serves 10-12

How to grow lemon verbena in a New Zealand garden

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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