Rediscovering that old favorite, rhubarb

May 08, 1991|By Copley News Service

Rhubarb, an old-fashioned food from grandmother's table is being discovered again.

Part of its new appeal is to the health- and environment-conscious consumer. Rhubarb contains calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. And because it has abundant natural resistance to most garden pests, it can be grown pesticide-free.

Although rhubarb is really a vegetable, it is traditionally prepared like a fruit, sweetened with sugar or some other sweetener to mellow its normally tangy flavor. It is most often served cold or at room temperature, but it can be served warm, too.

Rhubarb sauce

Makes 8 servings.

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar (or to taste)

Cook rhubarb in water until tender. Add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Cook until rhubarb is softened. Rhubarb sauce can be served plain or as a topping for shortcake, ice cream or pears.

Rhubarb streusel cake

Makes 9 servings.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups thinly sliced fresh rhubarb

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Grease 9-inch square baking pan. In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With fingertips, rub 5 tablespoons butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles cornmeal. In small bowl, beat egg with milk and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients until just blended. Spread batter into pan. Scatter rhubarb over top; press in gently. In small saucepan, over low heat, melt remaining butter. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over rhubarb. Bake for 25 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Custard rhubarb pie

Makes about 8 servings.

3 cups cut rhubarb

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs, well beaten

pie crust for 2-crust pie

Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry and fill with cut rhubarb. Blend together sugar, flour and butter; add well-beaten eggs and beat mixture until smooth. Pour over rhubarb in pie pan. Cover with top crust, press down and flute the edges, cut a design or slits in crust to allow steam to vent. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes.

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