There are some subtle signs that spring is here… that new life is beginning to sprout, blossom, and dazzle. Rhubarb is that sign for me, second only to strawberries. And what a coincidence, rhubarb and strawberries go great together. This cousin to celery, is pretty sassy, rich, and a bit outspoken (tart). We all have cousins like that, when its their season, they tend to make their presence known, that’s rhubarb. Its like she (rhubarb) begs for attention, lots of sugar and like things. Total red carpet treatment. She demands that you love her. I watched a man fall in love just last week. He simply couldn’t resist her pull. It was actually quiet entertaining to watch him try. From a distance I noticed the delivery man place the case of rhubarb on the table, receive a signature, and wave goodbye. The first chef on the scene fingered through the full case of rhubarb, clearly checking for quality. Even from where I stood it was clear when like turned to love, and love to lust. He was a man brazen with inspiration. New eyes. And so I watched in quiet anticipation to see where his creativity would take him.
This type of enthusiasm is common this time of year. Everyone and their mother is running to their nearest farmers market, farm, food coop and grocery store for a look at the seasons finest. Only to waltz into their kitchens and create the best pies, jellies, jams, salad toppings and other exotic creations. And why not ? Our beloved Rhubarb is one of the lowest calorie vegetables. Rhubarbs red flesh ( the red stalks are the best; they’re less acidic, and more tangy) is packed with vitamin K ( responsible for promoting bone health, and reducing neuronal damage in the brain). Rhubarb also contains high levels of several B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. With all of these health benefits, the choice for rhubarb is an easy one. Head to your nearest farmers market, food coop or grocery store, and find the reddest variety, with crisp stalks. Avoid the limp stalks like the plague. If for some reason the top leaves are still attached, peel them off and discard them, theyre totally unsuitable for consumption. And then try this delicious recipe from the Vegetarian Times.
Chef Will Hall
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble Squares
- 4 Tbs. orange juice
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 ½ cups diced frozen rhubarb
- 1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. freshly grated orange zest
Crust and Topping
- 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
- ¾ cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbs. slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
- To make Filling: Mix 1 Tbs. orange juice and cornstarch in bowl. In pan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, zest and remaining juice. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; partially cover, and cook 5 to 8 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender. Add cornstarch mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 350F. To make Crust and Topping: Combine oats, both flours, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and salt in large bowl; blend with fork. Add orange juice and oil; blend with fork until crumbly.
- Press 2 cups oat mixture into bottom of 9×9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Spread rhubarb mixture over crust. Stir almonds into remaining oat mixture, and sprinkle over filling. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.
Rhubarb nutrition facts and health benefits. (2014, January 1). Nutrition And You.com. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rhubarb.html
Salute Spring! Ten Ways to Enjoy Rhubarb Compote. (2009, May 9). Simple Bites. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.simplebites.net/salute-spring-ten-ways-to-enjoy-rhubarb-compote/
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble Squares. (2005, April 1). thevegetariantimes. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/strawberry-rhubarb-crumble-squares/