Did you like rhubarb growing up? I didn't. Though I find that to be true of quite a laundry list of foods: tomatoes, bell peppers, avocados, eggplant... now I love them all. I bought rhubarb the other day through my CSA; I opened the box and my eyes went straight to these long, deep-red stalks. Rhubarb is stunning---probably the envy of celery. Celery gets used more, to be sure. But rhubarb is special, a treat, a diverse new find - the latest trend. Rhubarb poached in vanilla, served on the top of creamy rice pudding... or rhubarb strawberry jam... plus rhubarb pie, compote, tart, crisp and crumble.
Consider: slicing rhubarb and putting it in stew, poaching it in vanilla simple syrup or marsala or port then tossing it in a blender to make a compote. Or: using it as a garnish for a drink or in 'fancy water.'
Rhubarb is expensive to buy, too. And even though I aim to buy some for planting this year - I cannot harvest it until next.
Rhubarb can be found from late winter to early spring; it's peak season is from April to June. This tart vegetable likes cold weather, is a cousin of buckwheat and in the 'old days' the roots were dried and used for medicinal purposes.
Fresh stalks are flat, not curled or limp. Look for stalks that have been 'pulled' instead of 'cut.' Pulled stalks dry out less rapidly. Size is no indicator of tenderness; deep red stalks are sweeter and richer.
Do NOT eat rhubarb leaves; they are poisonous. Rhubarb keeps in your fridge for a week, and freezes well. Because rhubarb is acidic, don't cook in cast iron or aluminum pans. Stick with enamel or stainless steel. Rhubarb has a nickname: Pie Plant.
I used the rhubarb to make a basic rhubarb crisp (it asked for a lot of sugar, I cut the sugar in half and added some fig jam instead!). Here are some other eye-catching rhubarb recipes: rhubarb and ginger brioche bread pudding, strawberry rhubarb paloma (tequila cocktail), super healthy rhubarb pecan muffins and strawberry rhubarb jam from the Perfect Pantry.