I don’t think I could have been happier to walk into Whole Foods yesterday and be greeted with massive stalks of rhubarb! I know my strawberry rhubarb pie fans are doing a happy dance!
As we step into rhubarb season I get asked a lot of questions about what the heck to do with it. Rhubarb is a relative of buckwheat and has an earthy, sour flavor. It is considered a vegetable because it has no seeds, but it’s most often treated as a fruit — though it’s rarely eaten raw. Just like fresh cranberries, rhubarb is almost unbearably tart on its own and needs the sweetness of sugar, honey, fruit juice or agave added to it to balance out the acidity.
Look for thin, reddish pink stalks of rhubarb — they’ll give the most colorful, tender, and flavorful results. And be sure to avoid using the leaves, which are toxic. When you are in the mood for that sweet/ sour dish rhubarb is your best spring choice.
Orange Rhubarb Chicken
2 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard
4 pounds boneless chicken breasts
1-tablespoon olive oil
Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until rhubarb is soft. Puree in a blender and set aside. Skin and lightly pound the chicken breasts. Oil the grill and cook chicken until just done, about 5 minutes per side. Brush chicken with rhubarb glaze during the final minutes of cooking, and serve with remaining glaze.
Salmon and Rhubarb
1-teaspoon ginger, minced
1/4-teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1-pound rhubarb, stalks only, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Four 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
4 ounces snow peas
In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, ginger, allspice and vanilla bean and seeds. Add the rhubarb; bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is jam like, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the vanilla bean. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 8 minutes. Spoon the sauce onto plates, top with the salmon and snow peas and serve.
Rhubarb Orange Crepes
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 lbs. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (5 cups) 3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon butter
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Strips of orange zest for garnish
To make crepe batter: Combine crepe ingredients in a food processor process until smooth. Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make filling: Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour, zest, orange juice and butter in a saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until the rhubarb is tender and the juices are thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To cook crepes: Heat a nonstick skillet or seasoned crepe pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water dances on the surface. Using a paper towel, rub the pan with a little oil. Ladle two tablespoons crepe batter into the pan and tilt to coat the bottom evenly. (If the batter is too thick to readily coat the pan, stir in a little more milk.) Cook until the underside is brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Loosen the crepe with a spatula, and quickly turn it over with your fingertips. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, rubbing the pan with oil between crepes. Stack the crepes as they are cooked. (You will have about 14 crepes.)
To assemble and bake crepes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with bakers joy. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the rhubarb filling in the center of each crepe. Fold in quarters and set the crepes in the prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. Serve dusted with icing sugar and garnished with strips of orange zest.
4 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (from about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 2-inch-long strips orange peel (orange part only) 2 2-inch-long strips lemon peel (yellow part only)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
Combine all ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rhubarb is tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Transfer rhubarb mixture to bowl. Cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Pastry for a 2 crust 9 inch pie
4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out half the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. Trim leaving 1/2 inch over the pie plate.
Combine rhubarb strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Place in the pie shell.
Roll out remaining pastry and cut into 1-inch strips. Make a lattice top crust on the pie by crisscrossing the strips over the filling. Trim the strips even with the pie plate. Fold the 1/2-inch of the bottom crust over the ends of the strips. Seal and flute the edges. Brush lattice with egg.
Place on a baking sheet or tinfoil in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the crust starts to brown. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 50 to 60 minutes,
Basic Pie Pastry
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
up to 8 tablespoons ice water
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the shortening into the flour until the pieces are the size of rice. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over part of the flour mixture and stir very gently with a fork, Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat using 2 tablespoons of water (up to 8) until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough in half. Form each into a ball you can do this the evening before wrap in plastic. . This is enough for 1 nine-inch double-crusted pie or two baked pastry shells.
Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies. Check out her websites www.Backtothekitchen.net and http://magpieminipie.vpweb.com. Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON .