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Rhubarb (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with rhubarb during spring:

1.  Rhubarb Clafoutis

The first line written in River Cottage Every Day is, “Good food prepared from fresh ingredients- ideally seasonal and locally sourced- can and should be at the heart of every happy, healthy family kitchen.” In the cookbook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall pledges to show us that, “truly delicious meals can be thrown together from scratch in very little time at all.” Baking is a fearsome subject for many home cooks, and broaches the topic with no-fail recipes like brownies, simple loaf cakes, and even a twist on the traditional cherry clafoutis, made with rhubarb instead. Clafoutis is a French dessert, like a baked pancake, and anyone can do it. Rhubarb is chopped into pieces and stewed in the oven to soften its fibrous interior. A batter made by whisking together sugar, flour, eggs, and milk comes together quickly and is then poured over the rhubarb pieces. Half an hour in the oven reveals a golden, puffy pancake studded with deliciously tart rhubarb. Look for the recipe here on la Domestique this week.

2.  Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Pork

The lively, acidic flavor of rhubarb makes it a delicious pairing with fatty meats like pork belly. Jamie Oliver’s recipe for My Favorite Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Pork with Noodles from Jamie at Home begins by making a purée of rhubarb, honey, soy sauce, garlic, fresh red chillies, five spice, and fresh ginger. Pork belly is smothered in this hot and sour rhubarb paste and roasted in the oven till tender. Jamie then separates the meat from the sauce, and fries the bits of pork in a hot wok until crisp and golden. Serve the crispy pork with noodles and the hot and sour rhubarb sauce.

3.  Rhubarb Salad with Goat Cheese

What a fantastic way to shake up your salad routine! In the recipe for Rhubarb Salad with Goat Cheese, rhubarb is roasted in the oven with honey for about five minutes (until just tender), then tossed with peppery arugula, thinly sliced fennel, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Tangy goat cheese and toasted walnuts garnish this vibrant, colorful creation. It’s an elegant salad that’s guaranteed to surprise your palate.

4.  Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Fennel Seed and Black Pepper

When I’m not up to baking a pie or tart, this Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp is my go-to dessert to fill that void. Featured last spring here on la Domestique, it’s a simple method of tossing strawberry and rhubarb pieces with sugar, cornstarch, fennel seed (think anise flavor) and black pepper. It may sound weird but this flavor combination really brings the sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb to life. A crumbly topping of oats, brown sugar, butter, and flour is sprinkled over the fruit before the crisp goes into the oven for 45 minutes. The fruit smells heavenly bubbling away in the oven, and once the top is golden and, you guessed it, crisp, it’s ready to enjoy with a scoop of ice cream.

5.  Rhubarb Jam

Rachel Saunders’ passion for ingredients is a quality I really admire. In her beautifully photographed Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, she writes, “One thing that always mystifies me is the difficulty of finding rhubarb cooked on its own; we always seem to succumb to the temptation to combine it with something else. Yet rhubarb’s unique flavor and texture set it apart from other early summer ingredients, and a really perfect plain rhubarb jam is hard to beat.” Her recipe for Rhubarb Jam is made with just 3 ingredients: rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice. The book also includes a recipe for Rhubarb-Rose Conserve with Cherries.

6.  Rhubarb Bellini

Anyone who knows me at all knows I love my bubbly. I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of Jamie Oliver’s Rhubarb Bellini found in Jamie at Home. Rhubarb pieces are stewed in a splash of water and some sugar until tender, then pulverized in a blender, spooned into the bottom of a champagne flute, and topped with sparkling wine. I think fruity, tart rhubarb has an electric buzz that’s downright zippy when combined with bubbly. This cocktail is truly the essence of spring.

7.  Rhubarb Chutney

This tangy condiment is on the savory side, made by stewing rhubarb in white wine with raisins, sautéed onion, garlic, and ginger. It’s got depth of flavor- tangy, spicy, pungent, and sweet. Rhubarb chutney is delicious as part of a cheese plate or served with roast meats like chicken or pork. Martha Stewart suggests slathering it on a tar tine (open faced sandwich) of crusty bread and sharp cheddar. I think Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb Chutney could be an addictive pantry staple.

8.  Rhubarb and Raspberry Muffins

I love the way Béa of the blog La Tartine Gourmande cooks with fruit. She’s like the fruit-whisperer. With a light touch and thoughtful flavor pairing, she takes a lovely piece of fresh fruit and turns it into something surprising, something special. I am intrigued by her recipe for Rhubarb and Raspberry Muffins with Buttermilk and Cinnamon because she cleverly uses both rhubarb compote and fresh, diced rhubarb in the muffin batter. Her use of millet flour, almond flour, sweet rice flour, and amaranth flour makes for a nourishing, healthy-tasting muffin rather than an overly sweet and cakey one.

9.  Rhubarb Compote

One of the easiest ways to cook rhubarb is to do a compote. It’s a great technique for improvising flavor combinations as all you need to do is cut the rhubarb into chunks and toss it into a pan with a splash of liquid, sugar, and your choice of flavorings. Heat the compote on the stovetop or bake it in a moderate oven just until the rhubarb is tender, then allow it to cool in its own juices. Orange juice and a vanilla bean are classic ingredients for Rhubarb Compote. Or try orange juice and cinnamon. Lime juice and rosewater are lovely. Spicy fresh ginger compliments rhubarb well. Serve warm Rhubarb Compote over ice cream, yogurt, cake, crepes, or pancakes. Stir Rhubarb Compote into your morning oatmeal or rice pudding dessert.

10.  Persian-Style Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

In Middle Eastern cooking, rhubarb is traditionally added to meat stews or tagines. The recipe for Persian-Style Lamb and Rhubarb Stew from Delicious Magazine is a classic example: lamb stew meat, onions, and garlic are browned in a pan, then seasoned with ground coriander and simmered in stock until tender. Just before serving, pieces of rhubarb are sautéed in butter and then stirred into the lamb stew. The piquant flavor of rhubarb brightens this savory dish, which is garnished with plenty of fresh mint and served over couscous.

What is your favorite way to cook with rhubarb? Share it in the comments section. Click Here.