Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce

Author Janet Fletcher’s note from cookbook Yogurt: I like to serve this panna cotta parfait style, from clear glasses, with the ruby-red fruit puree on the bottom. Diners plunge their spoon down through the creamy layer and bring up a smidgen of sauce with each spoonful. No inverting required. However, you can also prepare the panna cotta in conventional ramekins without the sauce and unmold them at serving time, then spoon the sauce around them. I’ve described both methods. Either way, you’ll have a little sauce leftover, just enough to enjoy with yogurt the following day.

Note that the recipe doesn’t use an entire package of gelatin. The peculiar measurement I have recommended yields just the right consistency: not too stiff, not too soft. You can make the sauce and the panna cotta 1 day ahead, but I find the panna cotta’s texture most luscious the day it is made.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
  • 1/4 pound rhubarb, in ½-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup of sliced strawberries (about 6 ounces), plus a few more for garnish
Panna Cotta
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1-inch piece of vanilla bean split lengthwise
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 1-¼ teaspoons unflavored  gelatin
  • Small mint sprigs for garnish, optional

To make the sauce: Put the rhubarb, sugar, and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until the rhubarb has softened completely, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully as the mixture wants to boil up and over. Stir in the strawberries and cook uncovered, stirring often, until they soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled. Makes about 1 cup.

To make the panna cotta: Put the milk in a small saucepan. With the tip of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the milk, then add the pod to the milk as well. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod with a fork.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, and salt.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the warm milk and let soften for 5 minutes. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring the milk to a simmer, whisking constantly until the gelatin completely dissolves. Cool 5 minutes, then whisk the milk mixture into the yogurt.

If you prefer to serve from glasses, parfait style: Spoon about 2 tablespoons strawberry-rhubarb sauce in the bottom of each of six 6- to 8-ounce glasses. Divide the yogurt mixture evenly among the glasses. (I put the yogurt mixture in a measuring cup with a pour spout so I can distribute it easily.) Cover the glasses with plastic film and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. 

If you prefer to serve unmolded on a plate: Lightly grease six 6- to 8-ounce ramekins with vegetable oil. Divide the yogurt mixture among the ramekins. Set the ramekins on a tray and cover with plastic film or another tray. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. To unmold, run a thin knife around the perimeter of each panna cotta. Invert a serving plate on top. Grasping the plate and ramekin with both hands, invert them and give a little shake. The panna cotta should slip out. Spoon 2 tablespoons of strawberry-rhubarb sauce around each panna cotta, garnish with fresh berries and a mint sprig, if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Photo Credit: Eva Kolenko

Recipe courtesy of Janet Fletcher’s cookbook Yogurt published by Ten Speed Press. To learn more about the author and to order the book, visit

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