It’s springtime! While everyone is loading up their farmers market baskets and shopping carts with just-picked strawberries and baby lettuces and Vidalia onions, poor rhubarb gets overlooked every year.
This underappreciated vegetable—yes, it’s a vegetable!—is most often playing a backup role to strawberries in pies. And while strawberry-rhubarb pie is delicious (especially the one above), rhubarb can be used in so many other ways.
First off, choose your rhubarb wisely. The long red-to-pink stalks look a lot like oversized stalks of celery. Look for medium-size stalks, which are less stringy than their larger counterparts. Some say the brighter the color, the more flavorful the rhubarb. And always trim off and discard any leaves—they are toxic. (Which is why they are generally stripped of leaves before they are sold.) Rhubarb has a short growing season; it’s widely available from April to June, so get it while you can.
Now that you have your rhubarb, what should you do with it? Here are a few suggestions:
Try it in a salad
We love this bright and tangy salad made with sliced rhubarb that is briefly cooked in simple syrup to add sweetness and make it more tender. The rhubarb teams up with fresh strawberries, toasted almonds and a citrusy dressing to make a fruit salad you’ll never forget. Bonus: you can use the leftover rhubarb syrup to flavor seltzer, lemonade, iced tea, or cocktails.
Make some jam
This simple recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Freezer Jam has a chunky, spreadable consistency that’s just right for your morning toast or alongside biscuits.
Then put it in a smoothie
It can also be used to sweeten this healthy smoothie made with yogurt and bananas.
Don’t forget dessert
This aromatic crisp skips the strawberries and lets rhubarb shine on its own under a blanket of sweet, spiced oats and walnuts.