Rhubarb: Spring’s Sour Star

5 ways to use the stalks—and all go beyond pie

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Rhubarb
This tart vegetable (that's right, we said vegetable) is more versatile than you think—and healthier than you'd expect.

Updated Jun 29, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

It looks weird, it has weird rules (don’t eat the leaves!), it even sounds weird: Rhubarb.

But if you haven’t yet begun to embrace this oddity of spring, the time is now. What is there to love about rhubarb? First of all, though it’s best known as strawberries’ sidekick in pie, it’s botanically a vegetable. It’s rich in many nutrients, especially vitamin K, which is considered protective for brain health and essential for bones and blood.

When shopping, you’ll find both green and red stalks. Both are good, but the red ones have more vitamin A–important for vision and a healthy immune system–and are somewhat sweeter. Note the “somewhat”; even the sweeter stalks are mouth-puckeringly tart.

Strawberry-rhubarb crisp
Paleo Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp? It’s what our dreams are made of.

That tartness is another plus for rhubarb, in our book. Whether you turn it into a dessert, drink or sauce, it lends a truly unique flavor; sour, sure, but with undertones of ripe berry and citrus.

Here are some delicious ways to enjoy these beloved vegetables:

Rhubarb granita: This frozen treat puts the spotlight on the famous pair, rhubarb and strawberries, without much else to distract you.

Paleo strawberry-rhubarb crisp: This modern spin on a classic dessert is almost healthy enough to eat for breakfast.

Honey-roasted rhubarb: Spoon it onto yogurt or pancakes to pretty up your breakfast.

Rhubarb-lentil curry: Who says it’s only good for dessert? Put this spring vegetable to work lending a splash of color and brightness to a healthy vegetarian entrée.

Rhubarb-fennel fizz: Fennel and herby gin join in for a sophisticated and refreshing cocktail that will knock the socks off your guests.