The season for rhubarb is upon us, and I can tell not so much by the appearance of these crimson stalks in my grocery as by the number of new recipes coming in featuring this vegetable. Or fruit (according to the US courts).
The rhubarb has an interesting history. It was originally cultivated in the general area of Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Sibera. The name “rhubarb” was coined by the Romans, from the Latin “rhababarum” or “root of the barbarians.” It was prized for its medicinal properties, which caused its value to skyrocket. At one point in the mid-17th century, its value soared to twice that of opium in England. In fact, some historical documents attest that some prisoners earned their freedom from jail simply by passing on tips about the medicinal uses of rhubarb to persons in authority.
All of a sudden, rhubarb doesn’t sound like a lowly vegetable (fruit) anymore.
But I know you didn’t come here for a rhubarb history lesson. You want recipes. And I don’t blame you. Not only does it have that gorgeous red color, but when prepared properly, that wonderful play of tart and sweet just brings such an interesting dimension of flavor to the dish.
We’ve got quite a few rhubarb recipes here, so let’s start with a few simple drinks: a luscious smoothie and a cocktail for the grownups. (Margaritas are always a good place to start.)
(Look, Ma! No links! But don’t fret. Just hover your mouse over each recipe image to see the name of the recipe, and click to go to the recipe page.)
Rhubarb also lends itself well to canning. Again, it’s that whole tart-and-sweet thing going on. Here are a few recipes for rhubarb jam and butter, as well as one for a jellied treat called pâte de fruit.
Of course, we all know the most popular way to use rhubarb. We’ve got loads of rhubarb crisps, crumbles, bars, pies … I don’t know about you, but I kinda want to take a spoon to all of these and take a bite of everything.
But you know we can’t leave well enough alone, right? Because we’ve got more than just the popular rhubarb versions. If you’re looking for something just a little bit different, how about muffins? Or cheesecake bars? Or try your hand at making an upside down cake (it’s calling my name).
Let’s get even crazier. Our Tasty Kitchen members never fail to amaze me with their creativity, and I can always count on finding something unique and different in here. From a simple roasted vanilla rhubarb to a novel rhubarb risotto, rhubarb is spreading its wings and widening out beyond the dessert table.
And to close out this rhubarb roundup, let’s look at a few parfaits and fools. No, not me—I’m referring to the English fool, which is a dessert of cooked and pureed fruit folded into whipped cream.
Thus endeth the tour of some of our favorite rhubarb recipes here in Tasty Kitchen. (I didn’t even get to show you the Rhubarb Semifreddo from puckandkudzu, or a scrumptious Rhubarb Buckle from goodfruit.)
Do you have any favorite rhubarb recipes? Any wild concoctions? You know, having a few rhubarb recipes under your belt isn’t just good for the belly. It’s also a great survival tool. While most other vegetables in temperate regions are annuals and need to be replaced each year, only a handful of vegetables are perennials and can survive and produce on their own through many growing seasons. Rhubarb is one of them. (Bonus points if you can name the others.)
Now go forth and conquer the rhubarb! And take pride in knowing that you’re taming the “root of the barbarians.”