You may be thinking this is going to be a blog about peaches, berries, or some sort of tropical fruit…but no! My favorite summer fruit is rhubarb. I’m obsessed with it! It’s only in season April through September, so summer is its prime.

This month, I’m going to be featuring one rhubarb recipe per week. I’m kicking off the rhubarb recipe series with a little historical background and a few fun recipe ideas to ignite your love affair with this flavorful food.

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Fresh rhubarb from my local market

First, a crash course in rhubarbology! Rhubarb’s use as a food is actually somewhat recent. Historically, it was used medicinally as a calming agent, and it’s sometimes treated as a diet food. Studies have also shown that rhubarb can combat diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels. There’s a lot of power in those red stalks!

Most recipes treat rhubarb as a fruit, although it’s actually a vegetable. For that reason, a New York court officially classified it as a fruit in 1947. This classification also meant lower taxes and duties – a win for both consumers and purveyors of rhubarb.

Personally, I love how versatile this fruity veggie is. Of course it’s great in traditional strawberry-rhubarb pie, but it can also be used for sauces and lots of other types of desserts. Here are a few ideas for making the most of rhubarb while it’s in season:

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Make a rhubarb chutney by sauteing chopped rhubarb with golden raisins, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, sherry, and your favorite berry jam. Serve alongside pork chops, as part of hors d’oeuvres, or with your favorite savory entre!

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Julienne rhubarb and add it to your favorite summer salad. This works well with a basic red wine vinegar & olive oil dressing.

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Add chopped rhubarb to your favorite roasting vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven. Asparagus is a great choice for summer.

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Make a rhubarb compote and serve it over vanilla ice cream! Garnish with toasted, sliced almonds.

Cool Off

Cool off with a fresh rhubarb cocktail. This can also be made without the vodka for a nice summer spritzer!

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Rhubarb Basil Cocktail

(makes one drink)

Ingredients

  • 3 medium to large basil leaves, rolled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons rhubarb pure (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • Ice
  • Club soda

 

Instructions

  1. Put the basil in the bottom of a glass and press with the back of a spoon to bruise slightly
  2. Add the rhubarb pure and stir
  3. Add vodka and ice cubes and top with club soda
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf

 

Rhubarb Pure

(makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 12-13 stalks of rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

 

Instructions

  1. Chop the rhubarb into small, 1/2-inch pieces
  2. Put in a medium saucepan with the sugar and water
  3. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft
  4. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender) and pure until smooth
  5. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the rhubarb through the strainer, pressing to get as much of the rhubarb out as possible
  6. Discard the leftover fibrous bits
  7. Use rhubarb pure in this cocktail, pour over ice cream, or stir into a rhubarb fool

 

(recipe via the kitchn)

What’s your favorite way to prepare rhubarb? Share your best recipes in the comments below, and I may include them in a future blog!

Next week, stay tuned for my rhubarb crumble recipe!

Photo Credit: Straight from the Farm; Guardian; Real Simple; the kitchn; My Recipes
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