forced rhubarb is available (long stalks, tiny leaves, sweeter than regular rhubarb), and soon you'll find regular, outdoor rhubarb at the market.
It's more than a pie ingredient: think savoury rhubarb chutney with meat or cheese, rhubarb jam laced with orange or vanilla, rhubarb compote on top of ice cream, frangipane tarts, yogurt or custard. Some of my favourite things to make with rhubarb: apple rhubarb crumble, rhubarb applesauce, rhubarb-ade, and rhubarb compote.
This recipe from the River Cafe, via The Wednesday Chef, keeps the rhubarb intact - pretty little pieces, perfect for spooning over creme anglaise, yogurt or ice cream. Or eating straight from the pan.
roasted rhubarb with vanilla
14 oz. rhubarb, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 orange or lemon
3 or 4 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean
Place rhubarb pieces in a shallow baking dish. Toss with juice and zest of orange (or lemon), sugar and scraped seeds from the vanilla bean. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes. Don't stir! You want to keep the rhubarb intact - stirring will break up the pieces and make a pile of mush (delicious mush, but not the effect you're going for). Serve on top of ice cream, yogurt, custard, waffles or pancakes with a drizzle of that vanilla bean-flecked syrup created by the rhubarb.
In other news, spring means I'm a year older (I share my first-day-of-spring birthday with my favourite classical composer, Bach), and it means beautiful Easter music, finding pussy willows on runs in the park, seedlings growing strong in the greenhouse, and tulips, lots of tulips. I missed you, springtime!