Hey folks. Here is another idea from the New York Times. This is not a dessert, needless to say! But if you are really truly out of ideas for rhubarb, it might be worth trying. I’m going to make it tonight & will let people know if it is any good or not.
Rhubarb, the Vegetable, Unmasked
By MARK BITTMAN
Published: June 8, 2005
WE associate rhubarb so closely with desserts that we forget that it’s actually a vegetable. The classics are the sweet-tart combination of strawberry and rhubarb, usually in a pie, and relishes that combine rhubarb with dates or other intensely sweet ingredients.
But there are cultures that use rhubarb in savory cooking and not only in conjunction with sweet ingredients.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone: most good cooks add sour flavors, usually in the form of citrus juices or vinegar, to at least one dish per meal. When you include rhubarb in a preparation, the need for these souring agents is eliminated.
I love this combination of rhubarb with orange lentils because the vegetable’s sharpness really offsets the muddiness of the legume. With a mix of Indian spices and a mild chili, it becomes a stunningly flavorful vegetarian main course or a great side dish for a meal centered around strong-tasting meats.
Any lentils, including the tiny dark green de Puy lentils from France, will work here, but I prefer orange ones because they are incredibly quick-cooking and nicely colored.
An interesting aspect of rhubarb is that it virtually dissolves when cooked, melting into the stew and leaving only its flavor behind. So if you want some chew, you might consider adding another element: a handful of rice (which will cook in about the same amount of time as the lentils), a few small potatoes (or a larger one, diced) or some little pasta, like orzo. In each case, you’ll need a little more water, which you can always add during the cooking.
I’d stay away from adding other full-flavored vegetables – I tried both beets and turnips while developing this dish – because their effect is to overcomplicate the nearly perfect marriage of flavors.
When buying and preparing rhubarb, it helps to think of celery. Like celery, the stalks should be firm and crisp, not limp. And, like celery, rhubarb is best when its stringy surface fibers are removed. You can use a vegetable peeler or, even faster and easier, grab one end between a paring knife and your thumb and pull straight down; you’ll quickly get the hang of it.
June 8, 2005
Recipe: Lentil and Rhubarb Stew With Indian Spices
Time: 40 minutes
3 or 4 stalks rhubarb, strings removed, chopped
1 cup orange lentils, well washed
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 dried ancho or other mild chili, optional
Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish.
Combine all ingredients except salt and cilantro in a saucepan and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Cook at a steady simmer until lentils and rhubarb are quite soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove cloves and, if you like, cardamom pods. Add salt, then taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.