Rhubarb has always reminded me of blushing celery, even though the two are not related.
Celery only comes in one color, but rhubarb has an entire collection of lipstick shades. Besides soft pale pink, rhubarb’s long stalks can range in color from light green to vibrant magenta.
This springtime vegetable (yes, it’s a veggie, not a fruit) has a make-you-pucker tartness, so it’s usually gussied up with sugar or spices. Most rhubarb-based recipes lean toward the sweeter side. Strawberries pair beautifully with rhubarb. You can sub rhubarb for up to half of the strawberries in many recipes, but you’ll need to bump-up the amount of sweetener.
Rhubarb’s tartness also works with savory dishes. I like to simmer it until very tender, add a touch of sugar and use it as a marinade for pork tenderloin or chicken.
It’s not always necessary, but sometimes I “string” my rhubarb to get rid of particularly thick and tough fibers. I use my vegetable peeler to peel down the length of the stalk (a paring knife works just as well).
Oh, and one good-to-know tip: the stalks of the rhubarb are the only edible part… the leaves are poisonous. They won’t kill you, but they can cause real stomach distress. And even though you’re going to cut them off and throw them away, rhubarb leaves should be green and fresh looking, not wilted or brown.
Rhubarb is in season right this minute. I’ve pulled together a few Rhubarb Rules to consider so you’ll know how to pick perfect rhubarb every time!