Seasonal Ingredient of the Week: Rhubarb
The queen of crumbles, the ultimate porridge topper, a regular on the jam scene: there's nothing that rhubarb can't do. Botanically speaking, it's actually a vegetable, but it's tart stalks are always treated as we would fruit - stewed or roasted with sugar to increase sweetness then added to desserts and puddings.
With pollen team members originating from Yorkshire, where rhubarb is practically a way of life (force grown in what's known as the 'rhubarb triangle' around North Yorkshire), rhubarb has now become a firm favourite in the pollen kitchen - the first signs of rhubarb bringing the excitement of the first signs of spring.
And London seems to feel the same way - rhubarb has become a key fixture on small plates menus and elaborate cocktails aplenty. The main crop, rather than force-grown rhubarb, is deep red in colour with bright green leaves and an intense, robust flavour. And with a high fibre content to keep the gut in shape, as well as high levels of vitamin K to stimulate bone growth and repair, it comes with more benefits than just a great flavour.
- Rhubarb has to be stewed (8-10mins), poached (8-10mins) or roasted (20mins) before use, usually with added sweetener such as honey, maple syrup or dried fruit. It's regularly mixed with cinnamon and ginger too.
- Once stewed, it's the perfect addition to a crumble, particularly with apple, blood oranges or strawberries which all happen to come into season at the same time. Make an easy, healthy crumble topping using gluten free oats, toasted seeds and coconut oil.
- Stewed rhubarb is also delicious with everything from coconut yoghurt or ice-cream to your morning porridge or pancakes. Just batch cook on the weekend, then store it in the fridge to be used throughout the week, or in the freezer in individual serves.
- Roast rhubarb can also be baked with cakes, muffins, bread and pancakes. Simply add the roasted stalks to the top of the batter before baking - much tastier and natural than adding icing.
- Rhubarb with savoury? Totally a thing. Slow roasted meats are great roasted alongside rhubarb, or marinated in it beforehand, adding a slightly sweet flavour.
- A particular favourite of ours is to use chunks of roast rhubarb in place of pomegranate in Persian dishes such as pilaf with slow cooked beef.