Fresh rhubarb is tart, juicy and very astringent. It’s crispy and crunchy like celery and has a slight berry or pomegranate taste to it. (recipe)
The fresh rhubarb caught my eye while stocking up on veggies for the week. (Strawberries and rhubarb...guess what is on the menu for tomorrow...pie anyone???). Rhubarb is an interesting veggie even though it was actually re-categorized as a fruit in 1947 by a New York state. The stems can be eaten raw although cooking them makes them slightly more palatable. Raw they make a great addition to salads or other fresh fruit or veggie conglomerations. They can also be tossed into stir-fries or even pureed and added to mashes. Their biggest claim to fame is as pie filling or jams. Strawberry rhubarb pie is a nationwide summertime favorite.
From a health perspective, rhubarb is good and good for you. Just don’t eat the leaves since they are toxic. The stalks are where all the good stuff is hanging out and they contain things like B, A, and K vitamins. The red in the stalk means higher amount of vitamin A and also beta carotenes and zeaxanthine which are great for bone strength, oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Research demonstrates that the chemical compounds in rhubarb are beneficial for slowing the progression of alzheimer’s disease. Early recorded use of rhubarb is for gastrointestinal issues. Rhubarb helps balance digestive flora and fauna and also soothes intestinal distress. In chinese medicine rhubarb is a good food to help rebuild food intake after long illness.
Rhubarb Salad with Goat Cheese
- 3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 4 bunches arugula (about 1 pound total), tough ends removed
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss rhubarb with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. On another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, 5 minutes. Let cool, then chop.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and fennel and toss to combine. Top with rhubarb, walnuts, and goat cheese.