August 21, 2014

Reflecting on rhubarb: A unique taste of spring

Rhubarb is one of the joys of spring.

Enjoying seasonal fruits and vegetables is a natural and harmonic way to nourish the body and the spirit. Here in New England, gardens are yielding the delicious flavors of spring, such as asparagus, herbs, lettuces and rhubarb.

Also known as pieplant, rhubarb is a cook’s dream ingredient. Versatile enough to be used in cakes, puddings, muffins, pies and breads, rhubarb also works its wonder in chutneys, jams and beverages such as tea and wine.

Rhubarb is one of the joys of spring.

Rhubarb is one of the joys of spring.

Rhubarb has a completely unique taste, with a slightly sour edge. The classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb or apples and rhubarb helps tame that rather piquant quality, lending a lovely layer of sweetness. I, however, am a huge fan of the astringent flavor of rhubarb,and will cook down a few stalks with a bit of water and just a touch of agave nectar to create an exhilarating sauce for yogurt, ice cream or even morning oatmeal.

Rhubarb is an excellent plant for the home gardener. Once established, this perennial will yield copious quantities of fruit for creative culinary pursuits. The plants themselves are attractive, light green and crimson stalks grow to be nearly an inch wide and sometimes more than a foot long. The enormous, fan shaped leaves are toxic, however, and should not be consumed.

When purchasing rhubarb in the supermarket, look for stalks that feel crisp, not limp or thin. You can store your rhubarb in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to three days. Rhubarb also freezes remarkably well. Simply wash and dry rhubarb, cut into cubes ad place three to four cups in each freezer bag.

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp is a sensational dessert that will be welcomed at any gathering. I hope you will enjoy the sweet consciousness of local seasonal produce as you prepare your delicious life.

 

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp

Serves 4-6.

Filling: 

2 1/2 pounds organic apples (whatever kind you prefer; Honeycrisp are quite nice), cored, peeled and sliced

4 cups of fresh rhubarb, washed, dried and sliced about 3/4 inch thick

1 cup raisins ( I like a mixture of golden and dark)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

 

Topping:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or combination of both

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking dish. Combine all the filling ingredients; add this mixture to the baking dish.

For the topping, mix brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and blend with your fingers until it all clumps together. Add nuts.

Spread topping over filling to cover completely. Bake for 40 minutes or until juices are bubbling around the edge of the dish and the topping has browned.

 

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP is certified in holistic health counseling by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. As The Conscious Cook, she specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to students of all ages, emphasizing the use of healthy ingredients and easy to prepare recipes.

For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net