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Embrace the tart: Welcome spring with rhubarb recipes

Apr 2nd, 2014 | Category: Cooking

by Mary Ellen Carter

Rhubarb is a mystery for some. The Pacific Northwest climate makes perfect growing conditions for this cool weather crop; we  produce more rhubarb here than any other region in the country. It may look like overgrown celery; it is a member of the buckwheat family and closely related to another early spring plant – sorrel.   Technically a vegetable, rhubarb’s tart flavor lends itself to being treated like a fruit. The sugar and slowly cooking the stalks softens the tartness. It is often paired with strawberries as in this tart where the beautiful pink and red of these two fruits are stunning.

Freshly cut rhubarb. PHOTO ON FILE

Freshly cut rhubarb. PHOTO ON FILE

When using rhubarb in recipes, keep in mind one pound fresh equals two cups of cooked rhubarb.

The recipes this month include the Simply Stewed Rhubarb, wonderful over oatmeal at breakfast time, ice cream for dessert or just by the spoonful.

A “fool” is a popular English dessert which dates to the 16th century. Elizabeth David, the acclaimed food writer described “a fool” as simple and childlike.Though simple, the presentation is very pretty – beautiful layers of ruby colored rhubarb and fluffy white whipping cream or custard served in a stemmed wine or dessert glass. I put a modern twist on this Rhubarb Fool and substituted Greek yogurt sweetened with honey.

The Rhubarb Chutney is a savory treat that pairs well with chicken or pork.

Embrace the tart and enjoy.

Mary Ellen Carter is local food enthusiast committed to preserving food and culture based on the values of community and sustainability.  She is a strong advocate continuing to write and teach about the value of returning to the table to enjoy good seasonal  food.


Simply Stewed Rhubarb



1 pound rhubarb stalks

½ cup sugar

Zest of ½ lemon

¼ cup water


Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces add ingredients and cook gently for 5-7 minutes. Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into 1 inch pieces and put into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon and juice cover and cook gently for 5-7 minutes. This makes 2 cups of cooked rhubarb.


Rhubarb Fool


1 pound of rhubarb stalks

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

Juice of ½ orange

2 cups Greek yogurt

Zest of one orange

1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)


Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into 1-inch pieces and put into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, orange and juice cover and cook gently for 5-7 minutes.

Spoon layers of rhubarb and yogurt into stemmed glasses. Sprinkle orange zest over the top.

Serves 4


Rhubarb Chutney



1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

2 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 teaspoon each dried chili flakes and salt to taste



In a heavy saucepan heat the vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb has softened.


Rhubarb Strawberry Bars


1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup butter softened

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt



Combine rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice in 2-quart saucepan. Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8-12 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in bowl. Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of greased 13×9-inch baking pan. Spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cut into bars.



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