I have long been a fan of rhubarb, and I convinced my father to plant a single crown in his beloved veggie patch at the age of 16. I'm pretty sure the only reason he said yes was because he was so shocked that I was showing even the slightest interest in the veggie patch. Sadly for him, I failed in that regard. But happily for me, I had a (almost) never ending supply of rhubarb now at my disposal.
In those days my rhubarb repertoire was limited to stewing it, with hefty volumes of sugar, into a stringy mess, mixing in some apples topping the whole thing with oats & more sugar and calling it crumble. Sorry for inflicting that on you, Mum, Dad & Sis.
Despite the fact that it is usually eaten like a fruit - desserts, with brekky etc - rhubarb is actually a vegetable. It is high in vitamin K, with small amounts of vitamins A, E & C. I am cheating a little on the seasonal front, as winter is not strictly the season for it. Rhubarb crowns are often dormant in the cooler months, but Perth's mild winters and very hot summers means it is more prevalent in the winter in WA. However if it's very cold in winter where you live, you'll have more luck finding it over the summer months. Just a note; the leaves are poisonous - so there's no using the whole thing this time!
The beautiful ruby red stems have been gracing my farmers market lately, and try as I might, I have only been able to resist for so long. Luckily for you, my rhubarb-cooking skills have improved significantly with age. I now prefer to roast the stems in just barely enough liquid, and a significantly reduced amount of sugar until they are barely tender. Al dente, if you will.
- 1 orange, zested & juiced
- 1 bunch rhubarb (approx 12 stems)
- 3-4 tbs brown sugar, honey or maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
Preheat oven to 180°C
Wash and trim the rhubarb, and chop into 1-2 inch pieces - it doesn't really matter, as long as they're all the same(ish)
Lay the rhubarb out in a single layer in a roasting pan.
Evenly sprinkle the zest and sugar over the top and drizzle in just enough juice to loosen. 2-3tbs should be enough (if you use a liquid sweetener - maple syrup, honey etc - you may find you need less).
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is just tender.
Serve as you would stewed rhubarb; on porridge for brekky, in a crumble (with or without apples...) for dessert, or with yoghurt, for any time!
Any leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 4 days (not that it ever lasts that long here!).