In Season: Rhubarb
It sure is pretty, but what the heck do I do with rhubarb??
You may have seen these glorious ruby and green stalks at your local farmers market recently, I snapped this shot just last week at the Union Square GreenMarket in NYC.
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, although it is most frequently referred to as a fruit. It grows year round in green houses but field rhubarb is one of the first vegetables/fruits of spring and grows through summer.
You will find a variance in color, some stalks more green, some more red, some down right pretty in pink. The red stalks tend to be sweeter.
How to Buy and Store it
When purchasing rhubarb look for firm bright stalks, not limp or sad. Discard the leaves as they contain high levels of oxalic acid. It is the stalk that you are after.
When you get your rhubarb home store it in a baggie in the fridge, it will keep for 3-5 days. Alternatively, you can dice it, place in a container and freeze it for later use.
Power in the Plant! Health benefits of rhubarb
Rhubarb has been used medicinally for centuries as a digestive tonic, typically it is the older rhubarb root that is used in pills and curatives.
For everyday you and I eating benefits rhubarb has as much calcium as a glass of milk, and rivals our dark leafy greens for concentration of vitamin K.
How to cook it! Radical Recipes (and easy ones too)
As for taste, rhubarb is tart. Very tart. Think almost tart like a cranberry but the texture (raw) of celery.
Typically rhubarb is paired with sweeter fruits and a bucket load of sugar to tame the tart. The most common pairing is strawberry rhubarb pie. Strawberries help to balance out the tart rhubarb flavor and provide texture as rhubarb also gets quite soft once baked.
I, however, really love to play with rhubarb in savory dishes. I actually love the tart citrus bite of this spring beauty paired with salty cheese and crunchy pine nuts.
Honey roasted rhubarb salad with fennel, mint, feta cheese, and pine nuts. Recipe here.
I begin by chopping the rhubarb (not too small so as to maintain some texture) and roasting it with honey.
In addition to piling rhubarb on salads I also reserve some for my morning yogurt parfait.
I simply combined my rhubarb with plain greek yogurt, hemp seeds, coconut, and cinnamon. Yes, this one is drool worthy.
Making rhubarb compote is another classic use of this veggie/fruit/veggie/fruit
I found this excellent, easy recipe for rhubarb compote from the blogging over thyme. Of course there is a lot of sugar in the recipe, you could reduce the sugar or swap it out for coconut palm sugar to upgrade the nutrition just a tad.
I also found that rhubarb is ideally suited tucked into crumbly beautiful muffins. My favorite muffin of all time is cranberry walnut, I love the tart bite of cranberry with a sweet cake-y muffin. Well, if rhubarb is chopped small and subed for cranberries in your favorite cranberry walnut muffin recipe they turn out absolutely delicious. I made a batch, but forgot to write down the recipe so you will have to play and let me know how yours turn out.
Final rhubarb in the kitchen thoughts… I made this Earl Grey Rhubarb Sparkler and it was a total winner! It turns out that the citrus, and bergamot in earl grey tea work perfectly with tart rhubarb. Grab the recipe for that here.