The rewards of rhubarb
“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”
— Arthur Rubinstein
With all there is to love about springtime, conscious cooks have much to satisfy the body and soul. The world is blooming with brightness and there are fantastic flavors to explore. One particularly invigorating spring ingredient, growing large and lush in local gardens, is rhubarb.
Rhubarb is quite robust, and not for the faint of heart. Its tart astringency needs to be tempered with substantial sweetness for some palates. Then there are the stalwart New Englanders who stride out to their long established rhubarb beds, snap off a stalk and proceed to chew away, relishing the almost sour intensity. The lavish leaves are toxic, however, so be sure not to ingest them!
Rhubarb is actually considered to be a vegetable and can be utilized in savory treatments, such as salsa, relishes or sauces, as well as sugary selections such as pies, bars, cobblers, muffins, breads and cakes. Rhubarb lends a luscious layer of unusual flavor to lemonade, syrups and punches as well.
Strawberries and rhubarb are a marvelous combination, the sweet and tart flavors playing perfectly off each other, most especially in the enduring classic: strawberry-rhubarb pie. But blueberries and raspberries may also be used with equal effectiveness and apples and rhubarb can be a compelling combo as well. Rhubarb may be stewed to an applesauce-like consistency and draped over good vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or oatmeal.
With such pronounced flavor, it stands to reason that rhubarb would also deliver powerful health benefits. An outstanding source of calcium, rhubarb may help strengthen teeth and bones. Rich in vitamin C and A, rhubarb can help bolster the immune system with superb antioxidant protection. The vitamin A is particularly beneficial for great looking, healthy skin and eye health. Rhubarb is full of fiber, to aid digestion, and may have cholesterol lowering ability which enhances heart health.
At the market look for rhubarb stalks that are blemish free and full of color, ranging from bright red to a paler pink red and even green. Store in your refrigerator and wash just before using. Rhubarb freezes beautifully, simply chop and store in freezer bags. When ready to use, pull out, rinse off and cook away.
When you prepare a delicious life, you will taste life loving you back.
Spring Rhubarb Crisp
4 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
4 cups of fresh rhubarb, washed, dried and sliced about 3/4 inch thick
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or combination of both
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 11 baking dish. Combine all the filling ingredients, gently stirring together in a big bowl, then put this mixture in the baking dish. For the topping, mix together the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and blend with your fingers until it all clumps together. Add nuts.
Spread topping over filling to cover completely. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until juices are bubbling around the edge of the dish and the topping has browned.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing fresh, natural ingredients and super simple, extra delicious recipes. She also conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net.
Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com