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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rhubarb Extravaganza, Part 1: Basic Stewed Rhubarb with Lemon and Crystallized Ginger

Yes, it's true. I like old fashioned produce like rutabagas, parsnips, and rhubarb. Now, how does a California girl acquire a taste for those things? Well, my mom is the queen of weird midwestern produce and I picked that habit up from her.
Anyway, it's rhubarb season here in CNY. I saw some a few weeks ago at the farmer's market, but it was $5/lb so I didn't get any. Inspired by this, I bought some plants the next day, but I don't think they'll produce much this year. However, this weekend I noticed a roadside stand outside of Ithaca. It was $3/bunch and you paid on the honor system. I bought two bunches, which was about 6 lbs.
For my first attempt at cooking rhubarb, I made some simple stewed rhubard like my mom used to make. I jazzed it up with some lemon zest and chopped up crystallized ginger.
It tasted just like I remember, except for the addition of the ginger. It also looked like gelatinous vomit, which is also exactly how it's supposed to look. I'll spare you a picture of it. Since it is in many ways similar to cranberry sauce, I served it with some grilled chicken. It was a tasty side dish, but the leftovers will also be good on its own for dessert or with some yogurt for breakfast. If I were paying $5/lb for it, I'd save it for "value-added" dishes like pies or cakes which don't need as much, but for $1/lb I wanted to take a trip down memory lane.
Anyway, here's the recipe.

Stewed Rhubarb with Lemon Zest and Crystallized Ginger

2 1/2 lbs rhubarb, washed and cut into 1" slices
1 cup sugar (or to taste. Next time I'll use less and/or substitute Splenda)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs water (the rhubarb will sweat a lot so it you don't need to add much liquid.)
2 tbs crystallized ginger, diced. (optional)

In a big pot, cook the rhubarb until it is soft and stringy and the mixture has thickened. Cool and enjoy.

Stay tuned for the next installment of rhubarb extravaganza, where I will make a rhubarb cake or some muffins, or maybe even combine it with some strawberries.

For everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb and more, go to The Rhubarb Compendium.

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