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The best ever rhubarb recipes

5 of our favourite rhubarb recipes

by Great British Chefs 19 January 2018

With its shocking pink colour and tart sweetness, rhubarb provides a welcome hit of bright, sweet flavour during the UK’s colder months. Here are our favourite ways to cook with the vibrant stalks.

Rhubarb looks like it comes from tropical climes, particularly the bright pink forced variety. It comes in stalks, like celery, but has a strong, tart flavour. With the addition of heat and sugar, however, it goes from being nearly inedible to one of Britain’s most interesting, flavourful vegetables (it’s technically not a fruit, despite most commonly used in desserts).

It’s a very seasonal ingredient, arriving at the beginning of January and then again in the spring. The first harvest is the one that gets chefs and cooks truly excited, as it’s a truly unique ingredient that’s only found in Yorkshire (and has held a PDO since 2010). ‘Forced’ rhubarb, as it is known, is generally only found in a place called The Rhubarb Triangle, an area of rhubarb growers based between Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford. Every November, young rhubarb plants are taken from the fields into long, heated sheds, where they’re kept in the dark. The warmth prompts the plants to start growing stalks, which are particularly tender, sweet and bright pink (although the leaves are generally yellow due to the lack of light).

Whether you’ve got your hands on the forced rhubarb of winter or are overwhelmed with a glut of stalks in the springtime, there are plenty of delicious ways to cook with it that go above and beyond the classic crumble. Take a look at some of our favourite recipes below, and be sure to check out our full collection of rhubarb dishes for more rose-tinted inspiration.

1. Rhubarb fool

Almost all recipes that contain rhubarb also need some sugar, which teases out the inherent sweetness of the stalks and tames their tart flavour. A rhubarb fool is a simple, classic way to show off the incredible flavour and colour of this fantastic ingredient. Chef Tom Aikens sets the cream and rhubarb juices in gelatine, then whips up a little batch of sponge fingers to serve on the side.

2. Rhubarb and lentil curry

Not all rhubarb recipes are desserts – something this unusual rhubarb and lentil curry proves all too well. The contrast between the earthy spiced lentils and sharp rhubarb might sound a bit strange, but it works incredibly well (after all, pomegranate molasses and lentils are a common combination in Middle Eastern cuisine). With some rice and herby yoghurt, this is a fantastic way to use up a glut of stalks if you’re sick to death of rhubarb crumble every night.

3. Rhubarb and pomegranate bhapa doi

Rhubarb often ends up in pretty rustic dishes – the crumble being a perfect example. But Atul Kochhar takes the humble stalk and puts it centre-stage in his Michelin-starred dessert. Batons of rhubarb are poached with ginger, vanilla and sugar, then paired with a rhubarb coulis, a pomegranate jelly, pistachio burfi (a sort of Indian fudge) and bhapa doi (a set yoghurt flavoured with rose). The dish is finished off with a toffee crumb, tiny basil leaves and some gold leaf. A fittingly grandiose dish for such a wonderful ingredient.

4. Rhubarb and beetroot ketchup

Tomato ketchup is universally loved because of its sweet, vinegary tang which complements savoury flavours so well, but there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables you can use to make them. This version uses beetroot and rhubarb to create a fantastic looking sauce that contains double the flavour, while the fresh ginger, star anise, juniper berries and clove add another layer of taste. You’ll never want tomato ketchup with your chips again.

5. Rhubarb trifle

When using forced rhubarb, you really want to show off its incredible colour – something Dominic Chapman’s trifle does with ease. Simply poaching the stalks in stock syrup intensifies the pink, and when paired with yellow custard, white syllabub cream and toasted nuts, you’re left with a dessert that tastes and looks incredible. The sponge fingers are soaked in a combination of green tea, sherry and lime juice, which lends a more contemporary flavour to the British classic.

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