By Brierley Wright, May 9, 2011 - 11:40am
When it comes to produce, there’s an oft-overlooked but funny-named spring favorite—usually matched with fruit in sweets even though it’s actually a vegetable—that you shouldn’t miss. What is it? Drumroll, please...
Rhubarb was love at first bite for me. The first time I baked a strawberry-and-rhubarb dessert it was for the plump, sweet strawberries. But when I took a bite I was unexpectedly smitten with the intensely tart and tender rhubarb—so much so that I forgot about the strawberries.
Now, when rhubarb is in season (from April to September), I fanatically stockpile pounds of the crimson celery-like stalks in my freezer. I usually track it down at the farmers’ market. But if you’re lucky, like my mother-in-law, you may find it growing in your backyard. (If you pick your own, don’t eat the leafy greens on top—they’re toxic.)
Rhubarb stalker aside, the nutritionist in me can’t help but love rhubarb’s nutrition boons, too: its red-pink color comes from anthocyanins, antioxidants believed to keep your heart healthy and brain sharp. A cup of fresh, chopped rhubarb delivers healthy doses of vitamin C, potassium and bone-healthy vitamin K, for just 26 calories.
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This year I’m going to diversify beyond desserts. I'll add rhubarb to my breakfast like in the subtly sweet Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge. For lunch or dinner I'll make Roasted Rhubarb Salad, where lightly sweetened rhubarb brightens up leafy greens. Be careful trying these recipes: you, too, may catch the rhubarb fevah!
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