Asparagus isn't the only stalk in season: rhubarb is also having a moment. Rhubarb resembles celery but has a vibrant pink color. Although many people mistake it for being a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It's a member of the buckwheat family, can grow to be two feet long, and is at its peak from April to June. While rhubarb's leaves are poisonous, the stalks are highly edible.
When shopping for rhubarb at the farmers market, look for crisp stalks that are brightly hued. The leaves should be free of blemishes. Rhubarb is incredibly perishable; tightly wrap in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Remove the leaves and wash just before using. Since the flavor of rhubarb is very tart, it's often combined with sugar. Classic pairings for rhubarb are strawberries and ginger, but it goes with a number of other ingredients including apples, pears, fresh cheeses, vanilla, almonds, ham, duck, and salmon.
One can prepare rhubarb in both sweet and savory applications:
- For a more sophisticated take on classic strawberry shortcake, layer sautéed rhubarb with crumbly cake and whipped cream.
- Stir into a delicious streusel cake.
- Simmer until the vegetable breaks down into a chutney and serve with ham.
- Puree and mix into custard to make ice cream.
- Bake in a pie or tart.
- For a scrumptious salad, toss with greens and goat cheese.
Do you enjoy the flavor of rhubarb? What's your favorite way to serve it?