Monday, May 21, 2012

Rhubarb--a treat in savory dishes

Rhubarb isn't just for sweets.  The tart vegetable, normally mixed with a lot of sugar, is used in pies, tarts, cakes, and jams.  Certainly, it's delicious that way.  But thanks to a desire to make jam, I got a lot from my mother.  Strawberry rhubarb jam calls for more strawberries than rhubarb.

Rhubarb adds a lovely tartness to dishes—it’s perfect if you want a tart flavor but not the acidity of citrus (or you simply don’t have citrus on hand).  Work with the tartness and don’t cover it up with sugar—the first recipe calls for sugar, granted, but the next time I make it, I will try less sugar (probably just 1 tablespoon) than the 3 tablespoons I originally used, as I liked the tart rhubarb next to the earthy and sweet beets.  Too much sugar will cover it up.

Rhubarb and Beet Salad
3 or 4 beets
1 small red onion, sliced
3-4 stalks of rhubarb, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
1-3 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast three beets in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until tender.   Allow to cool, then peel them and chop them.  Spread rhubarb on a roasting pan, and sprinkle 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar on it; roast for 10-20 minutes, until the juices are out and syrupy.  Meanwhile, whisk together ¼ cup of red wine vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, salt and pepper and a tablespoon of oil in a bowl.  Add beets, onion, rhubarb, and rhubarb juices, stirring well to coat.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Serve chilled.

Rhubarb Chicken
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
One medium yellow onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of rhubarb, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Sautee the garlic, onion, and rhubarb in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion and garlic are translucent and the rhubarb is soft.  Add chicken thighs, brown on each side (about five minutes).  Add wine and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and steam the chicken until cooked (about 10-15 minutes).  Remove cover, check chicken by making sure the juices run clear.  Add more wine or stock if the chicken needs to be cooked more.  Reduce wine or stock to a thick sauce—it will be creamy (without cream added—bonus).  Serve sauce with garlic, rhubarb and onion over chicken thighs.

To add some spice or different flavors to this dish, you can add to the stock or wine:

½ to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of roasted fennel seed (heat fennel seed in a dry skillet over medium high heat until fragrant, then add them to the dish)
½ to 1 teaspoon dried thyme


(Oh, yes, I made jam.  Turned out well.)


  1. Rhubarb is a beast in my yard these days! When I want to use rhubarb, but don't want something sweet I make a rhubarb vinaigrette. It's basically 1/2 c chopped rhubarb,1 shallot, minced, 3 T sugar, 2 T vinegar, 1/3 c oil, salt/pepper. Cook the rhubarb, shallot, sugar and vinegar for about 8 minutes, until soft. Whisk in oil and season. I like this as the dressing for spinach salad.
    If you want to reduce some of the tartness in rhubarb, but don't want to add any sugar, you can add a tiny pinch of baking soda. The soda neutralizes some of the acid in the rhubarb. But just a tiny pinch, or else you'll get that soda-y taste.