Only something as amazing as seeing fresh rhubarb on the grocery store shelf could pull me out of my month-long blog hiatus to write. Not that I haven’t wanted to write! It’s just that I started a new job which has consumed even the illusion of having free time, so both the cooking and the blogging has fallen by the wayside. Until now. When I saw those long red stalks from across the produce section, I literally did a happy dance and Mr. Foodie looked on in amusement as I scooped armfuls of the glorious plant into our cart. I’m only slightly ashamed to say that I took every last one. Rhubarb season is short. Too short for my desiring heart.
When I see rhubarb, like most people, I remember pie. But not just any pie—my grandmother’s pie. As a midwestern transplant to California, my grandma would frequently serve forth this delicious treat. I liked it better than any pie I’d ever tasted. I found the tart fruit a perfect compliment to the buttery, flaky pie crust and the light sweetness of the added sugar. For some reason, I always look for rhubarb in the weeks prior to Easter. I’m not sure why I expect it to be there. Maybe I remember eating it around Easter time? In any case, April is too early in the season for rhubarb stalks, but I look for it just the same. Apparently, growing rhubarb in one’s yard is so common in the midwest that grocery stores don’t even carry it in spring! #gardeningoals
Since I was lucky enough to catch it this year before it disappeared from the shelves, I wanted to find other uses for this delicious treat. The first thing I tried was a topping for pancakes—a well-explored subject on this blog for sure. That being said, I outdid myself with the rhubarb topping. The first time you encounter rhubarb, you might be intimidated. It looks like celery and may have either strange green claws on either end or wide leaves attached. First, discard any leaves because they are very toxic. Second, go ahead and chop off the little claws. You’ll notice the red “skin” *can* be peeled off the stalk, but why lose the beautiful red color? It’s perfectly edible. For the topping, dice up the stalk like you would a celery stalk for a pasta sauce. I used enough stalks for four cups worth.
Add two tablespoons of butter and 1/2 Cup of sugar to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb stalks soften and the mixture resembles a compote. That’s it! Pour it on pancakes, spread it on toast, eat it with a spoon out of the jar – you’ll have a hard time stopping yourself, I promise you!
Mr. Foodie and I, of course, made the traditional two-crust rhubarb pie, but we also dabbled with a rhubarb crisp – minus the strawberries because I did not want to dilute the gorgeous rhubarb flavor. Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of these due to the over-quick consumption by friends and family (and Mr. Foodie) lol. There were other recipes I wanted to try, but I only had enough stalks to try a small experiment with rhubarb simple syrup. Just dice up two stalks, add to one cup water and one cup sugar, cook for about 20 minutes on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Strain, and add to a clear liquor of your choice. In this case, I used vodka and a splash of prosecco for some bubbles. I added sliced strawberries more for garnish than anything. It was delicious!
Do you have any other rhubarb recipes?! I’d love to know for next year’s rhubarb stash! For more foodie adventures, follow us on instagram @fairfaxfoodie