. . . feisty and sour as ever, but add a little sugar and it’s transformed. Some of us are like that. This is our early spring vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit. We treat it as if it were fruit, like sour cherries, and make delicious desserts with it.
Just a few weeks ago voluptuous red buds peaked above ground surrounded by masses of luminous wrinkled green and remnants of last year’s decay. It’s matured since then and rhubarb is about ready to be harvested, cooked and consumed. Though the leaves are glorious, they’re full of oxalic acid and toxic as can be. Do Not Eat The Leaves!
The stalks are another story, an edible, nutritious vegetable high in vitamin C and fiber and a decent source of potassium.
Rhubarb is available right about now at local markets and Farmer’s Markets, or maybe you have some growing in the backyard. Start with rhubarb sauce.
Rhubarb Sauce Recipe
Ingredients & Directions: Chop, cook, sweeten and eat. Takes about fifteen minutes. Truly. Specifics: 6 cups of rhubarb will yield three – four cups after cooking. Rinse stalks and chop into small chunks, put in a saucepan and sprinkle with a little water; cook with the lid on for three or four minutes. Add 1 – 1 1/3 cups sugar depending on desired sweetness. Start with 1 cup, taste after it’s cooked a bit and add more as needed. Add a pinch of salt and cinnamon, simmer a little longer until rhubarb is just tender. That’s it. Delicious with plain yogurt or ice cream or all by itself in a bowl. After cooking and photographing my crew and I consumed an entire bowl full . . . wait a minute, I don’t really have a crew. Busted.
Tweak it just a bit and make a chutney. Finely chop ½ onion and saute’ in butter until softened; then add 4 – 6 cups of chopped rhubarb along with a big handful of golden raisins, two or three tablespoons of vinegar (more if you like), a pinch of dried red pepper, and sugar to taste, ¾ – 1 ¼ cup. Simmer together for five minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Bring a piece of pork or chicken to the plate and embellish with rhubarb chutney.
Rhubarb sauce is great on its own, mas y empty bowl testifies. Great with plain yogurt and vanilla ice cream.
Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
Ingredients & Directions: Miix 6 cups of chopped rhubarb with ¾ – 1 cup sugar, a shy 1/4 cup flour, a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Stir together and spread evenly in a buttered, shallow casserole. For the topping, process or mix by hand 1 stick butter, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, 2/3 cup oatmeal, ¼ cup chopped nuts. When this mixture has come together, is crumbly and slightly sticky, spread it evenly over the rhubarb. Bake at 375º for 15 minutes, reduce to 350º and continue cooking for an additional 25 minutes or until topping is browned and rhubarb is bubbling.
Local rhubarb should be available through May or longer at local Farmers Markets and grocery stores. Have yourself a bowl full of sauce, a big spoonful of crisp or some chutney. Rhubarb’s back and sweet as can be.
This is a reposting of a previous piece from almost a year ago to the day. Rhubarb is about two weeks later this year, but well on its way in the backyard.