The sweeter side of rhubarb
–by Jennifer Ruple
PUBLICATION DATE: 06.06.17
It grows in stalks, looks like pink celery, and has a rich, tart flavor. Oftentimes rhubarb is thought of as a fruit because it is usually paired with strawberries and baked into a pie; however, it’s actually a vegetable with many health benefits.
“Rhubarb is packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants,” said Heather Harris, a registered and licensed dietitian and certified personal trainer who consults in the Toledo area. “The high amount of dietary fiber in rhubarb can help keep you satiated longer, which can be beneficial to weight loss. Fiber also helps to aid in digestion, and it can increase levels of good cholesterol,” she added.
Lucky for us, rhubarb flourishes in the spring, and farmers markets are brimming with it. Just one word of caution though from Harris, “Don’t eat the leaves of the rhubarb due to its toxic levels of oxalic acid.” Otherwise, here are a few ways to enjoy this delicious and beneficial food.
Rhubarb Cardamom Galette
This dessert is tasty, interesting looking, and can be made in about 30 minutes. Plan to eat it shortly after removing it from the oven when the pastry is most crispy.
1 sheet (9 to 10 oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons flour
12 ounces rhubarb stalks (about 8 thin or 3 thick stalks), leaves trimmed and discarded
Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream
Heat oven to 425 F with a rack set on the lowest rung. Unfold pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon sugar, brown sugar, cardamom and flour. Evenly sprinkle mixture over pastry.
Trim rhubarb stalks 1 inch shorter than the pastry, then split lengthwise into ½-inch wide pieces. Lay pieces parallel across the pastry square, leaving ½-inch border of pastry. Sprinkle rhubarb with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake galette until edges are golden brown and puffed, 12-15 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.(Recipe adapted from Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook, 2012)
Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins
The addition of sour cream gives these muffins a rich, creamy texture. While the sugar balances the tartness of the rhubarb, feel free to cut back on the amount for fewer calories.
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups rhubarb (leaves trimmed and discarded), diced into ¼-inch pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil baking cups.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not overmix. Gently stir in the rhubarb. The batter will be thick.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, using the back of a spoon or a small spatula to settle the batter into the cups. The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.
For the topping, in a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle a generous ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin.
Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, spring back most of the way when gently pressed, and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the pan, loosen them with the tip of a paring knife if necessary, and let them cool somewhat. Serve warm.
(Recipe adapted from finecooking.com)
Grilled Rhubarb Crisp
Just like grandma’s old-fashioned crisp, only this one is cooked on the grill instead of in the oven. Best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
5 stalks rhubarb (leaves trimmed and
discarded), peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup white sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened, plus more for the pan
Vanilla ice cream for serving
In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with the white sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
To prepare the crumble, in a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in half of the butter.
Rub the bottom of a metal cake pan with soft butter. Add the rhubarb. Top with the crumble. Place on the grill at medium heat. Grill for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with ice cream.
(Recipe from Liz Donaldson)