Confession…I am a complete rhubarb newbie.
A vegetable in my pie never intrigued me, my family never bought it and I never sought out ways to cook with the tart veg. But now that the red celery stalk is popping up at grocery stores and in markets I am starting to give the infamous pie plant a second look. Rhubarb, you need some quality attention. Yes. You. Do.
Since rhubarb is new to me I did some research on buying, cooking and eating spring’s sassy ingredient. Here is a little rhubarb 101:
Pucker up. The springtime “fruit” (though it is technically a vegetable) may bring on the pucker-tartness of a Sour Patch Kid, but it mellows out when cooked. Rhubarb’s sourness is actually flattered when mixed with other ingredients and so the intense flavor can be refreshingly tart, soothingly sweet or savory heaven. Think of eating a green apple with salt with the fibrous crunch of celery. When cooked, the crisp texture becomes oh-so-meltingly soft and scrumptious.
May look like celery, but the health benefits are different! Rhubarb supplies a healthy dose of calcium, lutein (for those healthy eyes) and vitamin C and K. The vibrant red color is more than just eye candy and actually is a sign of the powerful antioxidant compoundsthat the rhubarb hosts.
Your rhubarb stalks should always be crisp with shiny, bright skin. Deep red stalks are sweeter and richer. Avoid dry, rubbery or limp stalks and choose those that are free of any blemishes or cuts. Store your rhubarb in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and nosh on them within a week of purchase.
Rhubarb in Overdrive
With rhubarb’s assertive taste and slew of health benefits, you wouldn’t think the tangy spring stalk would have more to offer…but it does! Rhubarb has medicinal properties like being used as a strong laxative, a safe-to-humans pesticide that is gardener approved, can be used as a non-toxic scrub to clean pots and pans and can even be used as a hair dye. No joke. Rhubarb has a bigger than vegetable personality if you ask me!
Healthy Rhubarb Recipes
I have compiled some (more than just pie) recipes that feature rhubarb at its best and highlight the intense flavor profile it offers. It’s dessert, it’s breakfast, it’s a snack. Rhubarb is worthy of a plate celebration no matter the time of day.
- Rhubarb for breakfast? When it is this tasty, you won’t question it. Bite into a seasonal rhubarb breakfast crisp.
- The leaves are poisonous so don’t get any ideas about adding them to your salad. Instead indulge in a to-die-for roasted rhubarb salad.
- Okay, maybe I have a strange addiction to odd pizza toppings but this savory rhubarb and chipotle goat cheese pizza is happening in my house asap.
- Bake those red babies with chicken in this three ingredient recipe.
- Keep it sweet and complement the flavors of rhubarb with spring’s other favorite: strawberries. Rhubarb-strawberry crumb bars = rhubarb rock stars. Yup.
Whether you love to hate (or hate to love) rhubarb, spring’s pie plant is in full in-season action right now. Get out of the newbie zone with me! Get up close and personal with the funky red stalk.
Do you love or hate rhubarb? What are some of your favorite rhubarb recipes? Tell us below.