Rhubarb – LA

Posted on July 12, 2012

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I feel like every new post starts with an apology about our long hiatus.  But not this time.

In addition to the usual craziness, I’ve started a new job, and we adopted two 10-week-old adorable kittens who love nothing more than to wake me up by purring on my face.

You guys understand.  Sometimes life gets in the way, and things get shuffled to the back burner (pun intended).  But, that doesn’t mean we stop baking.

Whenever a new crop season is upon us, I get really, really excited.  Mostly because I live in a land with no seasons.  Most produce is available to us 365 days a year, and I forget that in other parts of the country, strawberries come in May, blueberries—July, and corn—August.

But, there are still growing seasons for certain crops out here, and their seasons are short and spectacular.  When I spy green garlic or padrones (tiny peppers) or fiddleheads or corn, I know that I need to buy early and often, because before you know it, I’ll be waiting another year until they hit their peak.  (Side note: Jersey corn, tomatoes and blueberries are still the best.  Also, east coast apples and cider have more flavor—FACT.)

That brings me to my rhubarb shopping spree at Whole Foods.  I think I bought 4 lbs of the ruby stalks, forgetting that they don’t cook down that much.  My mom used to make a mean strawberry rhubarb pie, but not wanting to put in the extra time and effort into a crust, I settled for a toasted almond crumble.

Then came the rhubarb chipotle salsa – a tangy, smoky accompaniment to some black-bean veggie enchiladas.  I wanted to make this syrup, but I settled for a brown sugar and rhubarb compote that was like heaven when swirled into some Greek yogurt and topped with pecans.

Whew.  Are you tired of rhubarb yet?  Or just hungry?  I’m both since I’m writing this on a plane with my only food option being that weird green Odwalla drink I bought at Starbucks.  What I would do for a slice of that crisp right now…

Toasted Almond Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Adapted from Ina Garten, with a healthy smattering of my own ideas.  Serves 6.  

  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced (2 to 3 stalks)
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
  • 1/2 a stick of softened butter
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil (adjust as necessary)
  • 1/4 cup of untoasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup of ground almond meal
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 1/3 cup of sugar, dash of flour and orange zest together in a bowl.  Pour into an 8×8 baking dish.
  3. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup of sugar, brown sugar, flour, almond meal, olive oil, butter, oats and salt.  Combine until everything is damp and crumbly.  Adjust if necessary to make sure the “crisp” is clumping together, adding more olive oil or flour/oats if necessary.  The mixture should be both cookie dough like and sandy/crumbly.
  4. Sprinkle over fruit and top with almonds.  Ratio should pretty much be 1/3 fruit, 2/3 crumble.  Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.
  5. Let it cool for 5 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream.

Chipotle Rhubarb Salsa 

Adapted from Naturally Ella (whom I ‘m so happy to have discovered.  She has some amazing, inventive vegetarian dishes).  Serves 4-6 people.  Click on the above link for her black bean & veggie enchilada recipe, which I topped with rhubarb salsa.  A very easy weeknight meal.  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 4 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, and saute them until they become translucent (4-5 minutes).
  2. Stir in rhubarb and salt, and continue to cook until rhubarb softens.  The time will vary depending on how fresh your rhubarb is.
  3. Next, add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the lime juice. Start with a 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle and 1/4 cup of sugar, and taste at the end to see if I want more heat or sweetness.
  4. Stir and bring salsa to a boil, the reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. If you want smoother salsa, use an immersion blender to puree.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve warm or store in refrigerator for up to a week.  Great in tacos, nachos and with huevos rancheros!  Feel free to experiment with flavorings and additional veggies.
 Brown Sugar Rhubarb Compote
  • About 2 cups of chopped rhubarb, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • ¼ – ½ a cup of packed brown sugar (to taste—add more or less sugar depending on how sweet or tart you want your compote)
  • Dash of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  1. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb pieces are fully broken down and the mixture appears thickened and jammy.
  2. Remove from heat, and add the honey and vanilla bean.  This recipe can be easily adapted to include more rhubarb, berries, or whatever else you have on hand.
  3. Store in a glass jar for up to a week in the fridge.  Use as a topping for ice cream, pound cake, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt or whatever.  The possibilities are endless for this sweet-tart compote.
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