Rhubarb

If you’ve yet to enjoy the wonderful vegetable with a sweet-side, known as rhubarb, you better hurry. This red-hued veggie’s season is just about up (it tends to start to disappear in July.)

This sweet vegetable can be grown rather easily in your backyard, or, you can opt to buy the stalks at the market. Just chop up the veggie and bake into a pie or cake, or sauté in a dish (just make certain that when you harvest the vegetable you discard the leaves – they are toxic).

OK, OK. Maybe you need a bit more convincing as to why this bakeable vegetable is such a great addition to dishes. After all, rhubarb doesn’t really look your typical pie filling.

Here are just a few reasons why rhubarb is so rad:

1. It’s beautiful!: This vegetable comes in two types – both have an equally pleasant hue: The Hothouse (strawberry) rhubarb has pink to light red stalks and a more delicate texture. Field-grown (cherry) rhubarb has bright red stalks and has a hearty flavor and texture. Both types of rhubarb give any baked good a candy-red, swirled hue that is absolutely beautiful.

2. Rhubarb is packed with healthy stuff: Rhubarb contains calcium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants. Also: Stalks that have a deep-red hue are typically sweeter, and healthier!

I recently ran across this interesting rhubarb salad. Give it a shot and see what you think about this flavorful soon-to-be-out-of-season vegetable.

Rhubarb-Quinoa Salad

Serves 6

Quinoa ingredients
1 1/4 cups white quinoa, rinsed
6 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white parts only
5 ribs rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 to 4 cups baby arugula
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
*Use organic ingredients when possible.

Dressing ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons tahini
Salt and pepper

Method
Rinse quinoa in three changes of cold water to remove any bitter coating. Put water in a large pot, salt it and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. The quinoa should be just slightly tender.

Drain quinoa through a sieve. Set the sieve over an inch of simmering water in the same pot. (Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the sieve.) Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel and cover the whole thing with a lid. Steam until the quinoa is tender, fluffy and dry (about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 3 to 5 minutes. Place in a medium bowl and fluff with a fork.

In a frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add honey and stir to combine. Add scallions and rhubarb, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until rhubarb is tender. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, tahini, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa, scallions and rhubarb, and the rest of the ingredients. Toss the mixture and stir gently to coat with the dressing.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Read the full NPR article, “Kitchen Window: Rhubarb Brings Spring to the Table,” for five other recipes: Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pies, Rhubarb Scones, Rhubarb Compote, and Rhubarb Cocktail.

Image: Whitney in Chicago