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7 Ways to Get Sweet on Rhubarb

April 24, 2014

Rhubarb is often dubbed the “pie plant,” and the stalks, soft and delectable when baked, do make a divine pie filling. But pie is by no means the only way to experience rhubarb. It’s delicious in all kinds of desserts, and this tart vegetable also works well in savory dishes.

In Season: Rhubarb can be found from late winter to early spring with a peak season from April to June.

What to Look For: Thin, red, crisp stalks have the best texture. If stalks are floppy, it indicates they were picked too long ago.

How to Store: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week.

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios

As delicious as it is beautiful: The sweet-tart baked rhubarb contrasts with crunchy pistachios and the crispy yet soft and sugary meringue.

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), divided
Coarse salt
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chopped roasted unsalted pistachios, for garnish

Cook’s Note
Meringue can be made 1 day ahead and kept uncovered in a cool, dry place. Rhubarb can be baked up to 6 hours ahead.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Stir together 1 cup sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Beat together egg whites, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with a mixer on low speed until very frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar mixture, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, 12 to 15 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through.

2. Mound meringue onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently spread into a 7-inch circle, leaving a well 3 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch deep in the center. Bake until meringue is crisp on the outside and the texture of marshmallow on the inside, about 2 1/2 hours. (If meringue starts to brown, reduce oven temperature to 175 degrees.) Turn off heat and let meringue cool in oven at least 2 1/2 hours or up to overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine rhubarb, water, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes, spooning juices over halfway through.

4. Carefully transfer rhubarb pieces (they will be very soft) to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with a spatula; reserve juices. Let cool completely.

5. Just before serving, beat together cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Place meringue on a serving platter and fill with whipped cream. Top with rhubarb, and garnish with pistachios. Spoon over pavlova and rhubarb juices, and serve immediately.

Related: Delicious Desserts in 15 Minutes or Less

Rhubarb-Raspberry Cheesecake Squares

A ruby-red gelee of rhubarb and raspberries tops the creamy filling and graham-cracker crust in this easy cheesecake.

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
18 graham-cracker sheets
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
5 stalks trimmed and halved lengthwise, the rest chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 packet (1/4 ounce) unflavored powdered gelatin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides. Pulse graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl; stir in melted butter.

2. Press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake crust until firm, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

3. Beat cream cheese and sour cream on medium until smooth. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar, then beat in vanilla and salt. Add eggs and beat until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed. Pour mixture into crust; smooth top. Bake until just set, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely. Chill until firm, 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, bring chopped rhubarb, raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer, covered, in a small pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until rhubarb is softened, about 10 minutes. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing gently on solids. Skim foam from top of liquid (you should have a little more than 1 cup; add water, if needed).

5. Bring 4 cups water and remaining 1 cup sugar to a boil in a large straight-sided skillet, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low; add rhubarb stalks (in 2 batches, if necessary). Simmer until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. With 2 spatulas, carefully transfer stalks to a paper-towel-lined rimmed baking sheet; let drain.

6. Arrange 4 rhubarb strips in a parallel fashion on cooled cheesecake, spacing evenly. Cut remaining strips in half lengthwise and fit in empty spaces.

7. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water; let soften 1 minute. Reheat raspberry syrup until simmering. Stir in gelatin until dissolved; gently pour over rhubarb strips. Refrigerate cake until set, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

8. Cut into pieces, using a sawing motion to slice through rhubarb layer; wipe knife between cuts.

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Rhubarb-Berry Crumbles

Easier than pie and just as tasty (even tastier?), a crumble is a British version of crunch. Our recipe makes individual servings and calls for rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries under a simple butter-sugar-flour topping.

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, leaves discarded
2 cups raspberries, or sliced strawberries, or a combination
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Pinch of salt
Crumble Topping
Vanilla yogurt, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together rhubarb, berries, sugar, tapioca, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Divide rhubarb mixture among 6 small ceramic baking dishes (1 cup capacity and 5 1/2 inches in diameter). Transfer baking dishes to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with topping, dividing evenly.

3. Bake until topping turns golden and juices are bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack 30 minutes. Serve with yogurt, if desired.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Slab Pie

Sometimes it’s good to be shallow: We love a slab pie because it serves a crowd and there’s a higher pastry to filling ratio, which is just perfect when the filling is sweet-tart like in this rhubarb pie.

For the Crust
5 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup ice water

For the Filling
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (6 cups)
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (6 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 1/2 packed teaspoons grated orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water
1/3 to 1/2 cup sanding sugar (optional)

1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, granulated sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed; do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks, wrap each tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, light-brown sugar, tapioca, and orange zest and juice.

3. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a 10-by-14-inch jelly-roll pan. Press gently to fit into pan and fill with fruit mixture. Roll out remaining disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle. Place atop pie, pressing along edges to seal. Trim edges of dough, leaving 1 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan. Crimp edges. Brush crust all over with egg-yolk mixture and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.

4. With a paring knife, cut slits on top to vent. Place pie in oven, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling in center, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

1 disk Pate Sucree for Rhubarb Meringue Pie
All-purpose flour, for surface
2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Coarse salt
3 large egg yolks plus 4 large egg whites
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pate sucree to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish; trim to 1 inch, fold under, and crimp edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick inside of pie shell all over with a fork; line with parchment. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are golden and set, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove weights and parchment. Bake until bottom is dry and light gold, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let cool.

2. Juice rhubarb. (You’ll need 2 cups juice; add water if needed.) Whisk together 1 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in juice; bring to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking. Cook for 1 minute.

3. Place yolks in a bowl; gradually whisk in half of hot juice mixture. Return to pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until thick, about 1 minute. Whisk in butter. Strain through a fine sieve into pie shell. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat broiler with rack about 8 inches from heat source. Heat whites and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot (160 degrees), about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk on high speed until medium peaks form. Dollop meringue onto pie. Broil until browned, 30 to 40 seconds.

Rhubarb Tart with Lemon-Yogurt Mousse

Lively ingredients are a breath of fresh air. Here, tart rhubarb is complemented by the sweet warmth of brandy and spices. The poached topping is spooned over silken citrus-yogurt mousse in a cornmeal crust. Each bite will remind you that spring is here.

For the Cornmeal Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
3/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons water

For the Lemon-Yogurt Mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups whole plain yogurt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of coarse salt

For the Rhubarb Topping
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup brandy
1 cinnamon stick
7 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Make the cornmeal crust: Process flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 20 seconds. Beat yolks and water in a small bowl. With machine running, pour yolk mixture into flour mixture; process until just combined, about 20 seconds. Shape dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough on lightly floured parchment to 1/4-inch thickness. Fit into a 10-inch springform pan. Refrigerate until dough is cold and firm, about 20 minutes. Line dough with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges begin to turn gold, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and parchment. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cornmeal crust cool in pan on a wire rack.

3. Make the lemon-yogurt mousse: Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl, and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon cream and the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm. Stir in gelatin mixture, and remove from heat. Combine yogurt, lemon zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Add brown-sugar mixture, and whisk until smooth. Whisk remaining 3/4 cup cream in a medium bowl until peaks form. Gently fold cream into yogurt mixture.

4. Pour lemon-yogurt mousse into cornmeal crust. Cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

5. Make the rhubarb topping: Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook, undisturbed, until light amber, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add 3/4 cup brandy, the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, vanilla, and salt. Return mixture to a boil for 1 minute, then stir in rhubarb. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup brandy, re-cover, and let stand for 20 minutes more. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Strain, reserving liquid, and discard cinnamon and peppercorns. Boil reserved liquid in a medium pot until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 4 minutes. Let cool.

6. Spoon the strained rhubarb over the mousse, and serve immediately with the rhubarb reduction on the side.

Rhubarb Chutney

This tangy condiment is delicious on top of sharp cheese on crusty bread. It’s also great over roast chicken and pork, which benefit from the sour fruitiness.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (from one 1-inch piece)
Coarse salt
1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/3 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
12 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick

Cook’s Note
Sample the finished chutney, and adjust the flavor. If it’s too tart, add sugar. If it’s too sweet, add a little white-wine vinegar.

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add wine and raisins. Return to heat, and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Add sugar, and stir until it dissolves. Stir in half the rhubarb. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb. Raise heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until second batch of rhubarb just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.

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