Don't get me wrong, I love rhubarb pie. But every April, when rhubarb season rolls around, I like to think outside the crust.
In fact, when I'm at the market with a basket of sturdy red stalks and the clerk asks, "Are you making pie?" I'm proud to answer that no, I am not! It's so much more fun to talk about the soup or compote or syrup I'm planning to cook instead.
Here's to being different!
You heard me right — soda. Combine 1 pound of chopped rhubarb with 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water. Then add a cinnamon stick, a bit of nutmeg and fresh ginger if you like. I'm partial to a split vanilla bean if I happen to have one lying around. Bring everything to a simmer then let it gently bubble for 15 minutes until it's a bit syrupy. Strain out the rhubarb (save it to eat with ice cream or to serve over yogurt for breakfast), and chill the syrup.
Then all you have to do is mix the syrup with club soda, and you have rhubarb soda. Add a splash of cream for a cream soda and drink up!
Speaking of drinking up, to make a boozy rhubarb beverage take your syrup and mix it with lemon and gin. Or perhaps rum and mint? Or tequila and lime? In other words, you do you and party on down.
3. Rhubarb float
Again with the syrup! Make a rhubarb soda and add a scoop of vanilla or strawberry ice cream. It's a perfect spring sipper.
4. Rhubarb cake
Forget carrot cake and go for rhubarb instead. My favorite recipe uses whole milk yogurt for moisture and cinnamon for a touch of spice.
5. Ice cream
Why rhubarb ice cream? Because heavy cream and butter make everything taste good, and the pink color is oh so pretty. I make my recipe for rhubarb ice cream to serve with a side of buttery oatmeal shortbread. It's bliss.
6. Rhubarb pickles
Pickling is SO trendy, and a delicious way to extend the life of a big seasonal rhubarb haul. You can follow the same basic directions you'd use of any pickling project and throw that rhubarb right in. I like to spice it up with additions like cardamom and dried chiles.
7. Salad topper
While you always need sugar in any rhubarb recipe, this vegetable can still go savory. Try roasting it with a sprinkle of sugar to temper the sharpness, then add it to a salad once cooled. My favorite combo is rhubarb roasted with beets, placed on a bed of spicy arugula, then tossed with goat cheese and homemade vinaigrette.
8. Ice cream cake
Roasted with strawberries, rhubarb is the crowning glory of my roasted strawberry rhubarb ice cream cake layered with toasted walnuts, oat crumble and whipped sour cream.
Believe it or not, rhubarb works wonders in your sweet or savory soups. For sweet "dessert" soups, simmer and strain the rhubarb with a touch of sugar and the berry of your choice. Try the classic strawberry-rhubarb combo, or mix it up with raspberries or cherries. Then, top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Going savory? Sauté the rhubarb along with a traditional mirepoix. Add red potatoes and some veggie broth (plus salt and pepper) for a delicious, hearty spring soup to ward off the last of winter's chill.
We could go on, but these are enough ideas to keep us busy all spring, right?