’tis Rhubarb time…almost
Oh, oh, oh so excited. Just noticed in my garden this past week that the rhubarb is pushing thru. Sigh of relief, Spring is officially here. Thanks you rhubarb for providing the validation.
I do have a confession: I HATED rhubarb as a kid. As much as I loved pie (and sweets of all kinds for that matter) I couldn’t get past where I had to harvest the rhubarb: a large manure pile behind the barn. To think I would actually want to consume something that came from a manure pile – NOT. I didn’t care how incredible my mom’s pie was, and that strawberries were involved, the suspect rhubarb stopped any bite of pie from entering my mouth. And trust me, I was not a picky eater as a child…or now for that matter.
A gift of rhubarb plants for my garden from my father-in-law years ago, helped me get past my aversion, and gave the stalks a try. Besides asparagus, rhubarb is another indicator to me that a long winter is behind us, and the world around will be shades of new green and the days will be warmer and longer.
“Pie Plant” as rhubarb is affectionately known, is botanically a vegetable but ‘swings both ways’ as fruit & veg and has edible stalks that vary in color from green to deep red. Believe it or not the green stalked have a more robust flavor….red just happened to become more popular thru the years…prettier I suppose.
Most popular in pie, a cobbler or crisp, stewed, or as jam, rhubarb stands up well to savory sides, salads and main course dishes. I cannot wait for the first stalks of rhubarb to arrive at the Farmers Market so that I can chop it up, put it in a pot with equal parts sugar, a few dashes of cinnamon, ginger and a sprinkle of water to cook it down until it is nice and jammy. Great on toast and I must say even better on vanilla ice cream. But after a conversation with Joel from Green Acres, at Green City Market I been inspired to go savory. The following recipe is the result.
Rhubarb Shallot Vinaigrette
2-3 medium stalks of rhubarb
1 tablespoon sugar
olive oil to coat
1 1/2 tablespoons minced young shallots
1/3 cup white wine vinegar (nb: if you run out of white wine vinegar the flat champagne that you forgot about in the back of the fridge stands in remarkably)
1/2 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Coat with olive oil and sugar. Place on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes or until soft.
Put rhubarb (be sure to scrape all the yummy caramelized bits off the baking sheet as well) in food processor or blender. Puree the rhubarb. Add shallots, vinegar, salt and pepper and blend together. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Viola, vinaigrette.
*Drizzle on a perfect head of butter lettuce from Iron Creek Farm for a simple salad. Or try the salad I made for lunch today: Thinly sliced raw asparagus, french breakfast radishes (from Green Acres), leftover roasted heirloom potatoes (from Nichols Farm), diced shallots or green onion, salt & pepper to taste, tossed with the Rhubarb Shallot Vinaigrette and topped with some roasted chicken and garnished with radish sprouts (from Tiny Greens).
**We should see rhubarb appearing at the markets in the next couple of weeks and FOR sure when outdoor Farmers Market season officially kicks off the first week in May.