Rhubarb is a Vegetable

In the past few days I have found out some interesting information:  1. Did you know that October is National Rhubarb Month? Well, it is and I decided to beat the rush by posting early.  2. Rhubarb is a vegetable in the celery family.  (This little tidbit was something I did not realize, but also had never given it much thought as to what food group Rhubarb belonged.  3.  Did you know there is a National Calendar app that lets you know the National whatever for the month? Maybe I am the only person that did not know this information.

Why my interest in rhubarb you might wonder.  While shopping a few days ago I saw  the rhubarb and wanted to try something new.  Never cooking with rhubarb I asked myself the question: What do you make with rhubarb? I was going to need to do some research to answer that question.

While going through my cook books and searching the internet I found there were more recipes in the sweets group than the savory group for this vegetable.  Pulling from several recipes I decided on two different sweets recipes for my rhubarb creations.  

My first recipe was a Strawberry/Rhubarb Pavlova.  It was easy and presentation looked so elegant.  I thought it would be great when having guests.  The Pavlova is light with a crisp crust on the outside and a soft marshmallow center.  then fill the meringue cups with the fruit for a light, sweet dessert.   

Strawberry Rhubarb Pavlovas

Missing from photo are the frozen strawberries

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
(Makes 3 cups)

4 cups rhubarb (chopped)
10 oz. bag whole frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (or I grated fresh ginger)
1. In a large sauce pan stir together rhubarb and frozen strawberries. Stir in 1 cup sugar.  Let stand about 10 minutes at room temperature until rhubarb releases some of its liquid.

 2. If using fresh ginger add this to the strawberry/rhubarb mixture (If using ground ginger wait until the end to add.)  Then, bring the strawberry/rhubarb mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat: let simmer stirring occasionally, until the strawberries and the rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain.  This takes about 5 minutes.

3.Remove from heat.  I, then took a potato masher and lightly mashed the mixture (not to much) leave some big pieces.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste and this is the time to add the ground ginger (if you did not use fresh ginger).  Let this cool completely before using.

(makes 6)

3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

1.  Preheat oven 250°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a pencil, draw 6 (3-inch) circles on the parchment: turn over and place on the baking sheet.

at soft peak stage

2.  In a large bowl beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.

3.  Place meringue mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large
star tip.  Pipe meringue onto drawn circles of the parchment paper forming the 3-inch meringue cups.

4.  Bake at 250° for 50 minutes or until set and dry.  Turn off the oven and do not open door.  Leave the meringues in the oven for 1 hour.

  5.  After removing from oven.  Fill the centers with the strawberry/rhubarb compote and serve. 

The second recipe was a strawberry-rhubarb crumb pie.  (Rhubarb is very sour and in sweets recipes was paired with a fruit and a good amount of sugar.)  This pie was a winner, sweet and a little tart.  It was difficult to just stop at one slice.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Pie
9-inch unbaked pastry shell (unbaked)

Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooling or old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and the oats; cut in the butter until the mixture looks like small crumbs.  Set aside.

1 egg, beaten
4 cups of rhubarb, chopped
1 pint of fresh strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1.  In a large bowl add beaten egg.  Beat in the sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Gently stir in rhubarb and strawberries. 

2. Add this mixture to the pastry shell.  Sprinkle crumb topping over the fruit.

3. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for 35 more minutes until crust and topping are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.  Cool on a wire rack.  

I hope you will try these recipes especially if you have never before created with rhubarb.  It\’s always fun to try something new.

Happy Baking,
Libby Stephens


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