Ingredient of the Week: Rhubarb

Rhubarb (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Rhubarb is a sight for sore eyes! Like an oasis in the dessert, she appears to bridge the hungry gap between citrus season and the fresh berries and stone fruits of summer. I might not notice her then, surrounded by fuzzy peaches and plump cherries. But now, the stage is all hers, and just as an understudy in the theater, she’s prepared. She’s learned the lines for every role, seamlessly transitioning from pies and tarts to jelly preserves to crisps and crumbles. Rhubarb is versatile, adding life to savory dishes such as Middle Eastern stews or chutney paired with cheese, pork, or luxurious foie gras. Left to stew in sugar and orange juice, the mouth-puckering syrup rendered infuses cocktails with her blushing pink hue and electricity, as if the energy of spring could be bottled and sold.

I’ve seen her in the garden, lengthy cherry-red petioles splaying unabashedly, voluptuous leaves basking in the sun. No need to worry about pests bothering rhubarb -the grand leaves are all for show, full of poisonous oxalic acid. I’ll enjoy the peak of rhubarb season from April to June, taking her home to my kitchen and straight to the cooking pot. Once plucked from the precious soil rhubarb quickly deteriorates, drying up and surrendering to her mortality. It’s best not to waste any time. Sugar is the only thing that can tame her brash tartness. A few minutes under the heat and rhubarb disintegrates into mush, politely called a compote, which I will spoon over ice cream or stir into my morning oatmeal. For this moment, rhubarb is the most beautiful taste of spring, and she owns it.

Have you cooked with rhubarb? Share your impressions of this tart, fruity vegetable in the comments section. Click Here.

You may have noticed that the la Domestique website is getting a makeover! Over the next couple of weeks things will be changing around here, and we’re super excited for the face lift plus some new functionality that will make it easier to find inspiration for cooking with the seasons utilizing what you’ve got on hand in the pantry. Stay tuned!

18 Comments

  1. love this! :) three cheers for rhubarb. and… eager to see the redesign! you must be so excited :)

    Reply
    • Thanks for your enthusiasm, Kelsey! I really enjoyed your post on rhubarb this weekend. Big change in store for ladomestique.com, and I’m beyond excited for it!

      Reply
    • Thanks for saying hi, Darcy! Love all the links, especially the rhubarb tart. I hope you’re staying cozy on this damp Colorado day. :)

      Reply
    • Valerie,
      Rhubarb ice cream sounds delicious- but I am a huge fan of tart flavors. Thanks for sharing your link.

      Reply
  2. You and Kelsey owned it this week with rhubarb :) awesome! So what are you making this week with these stalks Jess?

    Reply
    • Hey Sarah! Thanks! I found a recipe for rhubarb clafoutis in the River Cottage Every Day cookbook and I can’t wait for you to see it. The baked pancake is puffy and golden, studded with deliciously tart pieces of rhubarb. Thanks for reading. :)

      Reply
  3. I love rhubarb in pies and summer drinks, but wasn’t able to find it in this parts of the country… :(

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    • Marina, I just learned that rhubarb doesn’t thrive in the south, it needs cold winters and moderate summers. I never saw it in Arkansas. Keep your eyes peeled at the farmers market, though.

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      • I am Jess, Farmer’s market was the first place I went to when we moved here. Although it’s a very small, it has a lot to offer. I’ve met on the FM a goat lady to buy my milk from, the tomato farmer to buy great tomatoes, and my Asian ladies to buy all other vegetables they have to offer. Trust me, coming from Seattle, where Whole Foods was two blocks from our house and Trader Joe’s on the corner, it was a bit of the shock: I am an organic and a locavore as a eater. The last one I had to forget to keep the first one. But I did find some local and pesticide free food. No rhubarb though… and now I know why…:) Thanks Jess!

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        • It’s tough finding good, wholesome food options there, I know. That’s pretty cool about the goat lady though. :)

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  4. I love the new logo! Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for la domestique.

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    • Thanks, Carolyn! :)

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  5. Love the re-design Jess! Ah rhubarb – it’s a little later in a making an appearance in these parts, and mine is just bursting through the ground now. So excited to cook with it soon – crumbles and pies and paired with strawberries, stuffed in crepes! Yum!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you like the new look of la Domestique, Renee! I’m pretty excited about it, and more great changes to come over the next few weeks. Speaking of rhubarb crepes- I’m thinking rhubarb compote and maybe goat cheese as a crepe filling.

      Reply
  6. I am deeply in love with all things rhubarb. I could never find it in Italy as it doesn’t grow that well there, but now that I’m in the UK I am finding tons at the farmers market and I am using it in all kinds of preparations. I saw your beautiful clafoutis, I am surely putting it on the list of must-make recipes.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you stopped by, Valeria! You could make the clafoutis for one of those special breakfast treats you were writing about on your blog. It’s good you can enjoy the bounty of rhubarb, now that you’re in England.

      Reply

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