Rhubarb is an ingredient that deserves your attention. I’m not just talking about as a sidekick to strawberries in some pie, but consider them in a starring role on your plate. Here’s why.
The pretty red stalks of the rhubarb plant — technically a vegetable, but in 1947 a New York court decided that it would be classified as a fruit in the United States! — are rich in Vitamin C and dietary fiber. Rhubarb is inexpensive to buy and easy to grow. Once planted, it will keep coming back year after year, more abundantly than before and with no help from you. It’s also one of those rare ingredients that retains its bright color after being cooked, so it needs no garnish. It glows with a natural beauty all its own.
Rhubarb is 95% water, so it cooks easily and quickly. The most basic method is to remove the leaves and discard, cut the stalks into chunks, and put them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. Bring the rhubarb to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the rhubarb breaks down into a puree, about ten minutes. Now sweeten to taste, and add any spices you like. I sweeten my rhubarb with honey, and season with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Let it cool, and serve in one of the following ways:
Mix the rhubarb with an equal amount of whipped cream and serve it in a martini glass.
Add a quart of water to the rhubarb, whisk, then pour through a strainer. That bright pink liquid is rhubarb juice! Drink it plain, or add a splash of seltzer —or champagne— to make a rhubarb spritzer.
Put a dollop of thick, Greek-style yogurt in a bowl, spoon the rhubarb on top, and add crunch with a handful of chopped pistachios.
Louisa Shafia blogs at LucidFood.
Photo Credits: Louisa Shafia