Rhubarb ... it's one of those mysterious ingredients in the produce aisle. Not being a regular "baker" it doesn't call to me. My friend Lynn grows it and cooks with it a lot. Particularly making the ubiquitous Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that my step-daughter Elinor adores. So when I decided to highlight it this week, as it's in season, I wondered how I could make it savory? The bunch I brought home was picked up at the Chappaqua Farmers Market from Madura Farms.
The leaves are poisonous, and typically are removed by the time they get to the store. However, if you are harvesting yourself, be sure to throw them away! If the stalks are really thick you can remove the outside strings by peeling them with a small paring knife. The texture of the stalk is similar to celery, the flavor however, is a different story!
The flavor of rhubarb is distinct and remarkably tart. In desserts it's typically macerated with sugar and paired with strawberry to balance its bite. (We'll get to that in a minute.) So how do incorporate it another way?
After a quick perusal of my cabinet I came across some red lentils. Maybe a stew? One of my clients that I cook for has a child that was, up until recently, a vegetarian. So a few years ago when I started cooking for them I needed to make a lot of vegetarian dishes every week. I picked up Mark Bittman's tome on all things vegetable, and it has been my go-to reference for many, many ingredients. Happily to my surprise he has a Dal recipe using red lentils, with the suggestion of adding rhubarb! His recipe is below, but I can tell you now this could not be an easier dish to make. You basically put everything together in the pot, add water and let it all cook together to create a creamy spicy stew. Dals are typically found in Indian cuisine, made with lentils and served over rice.
To read more about this rhubarb post and see my easy recipes using them click here.