A Feast in Praise of Rhubarb

menuI get a bit giddy about rhubarb. My own rhubarb plants are fledgling and un-established  so any home harvest is treated with near religious ceremony. Before such rare and blessed occassions, I am drawn to those candy pink stalks wherever I see them and I inevitably find myself in the sober light of the kitchen with a fridge full of pink loveliness and a slightly sheepish feeling about behaving with such ill-considered abandon.  What on earth shall I do with it all?

Such was my fate last week. Thankfully, a practice run for G&G Gourmet and an audience that I knew shared my dewy-eyed weakness for rhubarb, gave me the perfect use for my glut: a feast of rhubarb.

I’ll not bore you with the whole menu or we’ll be here all day, but I’ll give you the recipes for the rhubarb components of each course:

Rhubarb and mackerel salad with homemade sourdough:

rhubarb salad


This unlikely pairing was inspired by the rather wonderful Jenny Chandler who posted the recipe the other week. You can find it here.

Braised duck leg with rhubarb coulis:

To be clear, I would never normally refer to this as a ‘coulis’ in educated circles. However, it’s a Lloyd-Grossman-imitation-related joke amongst my dinner guests and I am bound to humour it. ‘Compote’ or plain old ‘sauce’ will do just fine.

The legs I brown in a frying pan then add to a chicken stock seasoned with root veg, oranges and a bay leaf and leave it to mull in the oven for 3 hours until the meat is falling of the bone.

For the ‘sauce’, simply simmer 3 sticks of rhubarb in a dash of water until soft then blitz until smooth. Add a dash of muscat vinegar or something similar with a sweet tang. Don’t add sugar though: the tartness of the rhubarb accompanies the rich duck perfectly. It would also be an elegant alternative to apple sauce for roast pork.

(You’ll have to imagine how it look I’m afraid, in the the flurry of plating up I forgot to take a picture.)

Rhubarb Tart (or Grown-up’s Rhubarb and Custard):

rhubarb tart

  • Sweet pastry
  • Crème pâtissière
  • Rhubarb
  • Stem ginger in syrup

Make a sweet pastry case using your favourite recipe. I’m a fan of Ottolenghi’s in The Cookbook.

Then make a good thick crème pâtissière. This one from BBC Food & Drink isn’t bad. I add a dash of syrup from a jar of stem ginger to the mix too (go easy or it’ll split).

Next, cut some rhubarb into delicate sticks, sprinkle with a little sugar and bake on a silicone sheet for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees until soft but holding their shape.

Leave all these components to cool until needed; if any of this is warm when you assemble it, you risk all sorts of calamities from scrambling to melting. When you’re ready to serve, spoon some crème pâtissière into the case and stack the rhubarb on top. Slice a few pieces of stem ginger and sprinkle them over the tarts – this is more than a garnish, it really adds to the flavours. Serve with a sprig of mint – this is just garnish, but it does look jolly pretty.

Ah, what a pleasant way to deal with a self-inflicted rhubarb glut.

14 thoughts on “A Feast in Praise of Rhubarb

  1. Lovely rhubarb dishes! It’s one of my favourite fruits and similarly my own plants are not quite ready for pulling but I’m also unable to resist buying those tender pink stems. I just had a delivery of rhubarb from my mother-in-laws garden last night, so it’s great to have new inspiration. I do fancy making rhubarb cordial this year too.

    • What a redeeming feature in a mother-in-law. Rhubarb cordial sounds lovely, I’ve never tried it. I look fwd to hearing about the results. Bet it would be lovely with prosecco as a summer fizz cocktail…

  2. Still waiting for the first rhubarb harvest of the year, but will be refering back to your rhubarb tart recipe when it does happen! I also like (very much) the idea of rhubarb cordial with prosecco…

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