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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!