Wash all fruit. Cut rhubarb into cubes and set aside. Fun fact: only the stems are edible, the leaves are poisonous!
Remove the hull or top of the strawberry and cut strawberries into quarters.
If using a vanilla bean, flatten the bean with the back of sharp knife and then carefully slice it in half (horizontally). Scrape out the seeds from inside the bean and mix them into your sugar. (You can save the bean pod and make vanilla sugar by placing the scraped bean inside a jar and covering it with sugar. Let it set for a few weeks to allow the flavor to infuse the sugar.)
Place a medium to large size pot on the stove and sprinkle the sugar evenly in the pot, and add two tablespoons of water. Turn the heat to medium, but do not stir the sugar. You’ll need to keep a watch on the sugar as it melts and begins to caramelize, but do not stir the sugar!
When the sugar has turned golden brown, add in your chopped rhubarb and stir to coat it with the caramelized sugar. Let cook until the rhubarb begins to fall apart.
Add the strawberries, stir to combine, and let cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
Optional: add a small jar of all-fruit raspberry jam to the compote. This helps thicken the compote and keep the color red.
Note: This compote is delicious over ice cream as well as yogurt. Add it to lemonade and seltzer water for a refreshing drink.