3 ways with Rhubarb

This unusual vegetable, which is commonly thought of as a fruit, is one of the first beauties to emerge in the Spring garden. The early or forced shoots are tender and sweet and are a delightful pale pink colour. There are many uses for it.

Rhubarb and ricotta bread and butter pudding

Rhubarb and ricotta bread and butter pudding

* Serves: 8

* Preparation time: 25 mins

* Cooking time: 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 400g rhubarb
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 250g bread, brioche works well here
  • 35g butter
  • 200g ricotta
  • 25g icing sugar (can be left out if you want to cut down sugar content)
  • 1lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested

You will also need an oven dish, 20cm x 30cm

Method

Preheat your oven to 200OC. Trim the rhubarb and cut into 3cm pieces. Toss in 50g of the caster sugar, add a pinch of salt and large knob of butter, mix to coat rhubarb in sugar and to break up the butter a little. Place in a flat baking tray so that the rhubarb is in one layer (this is important, otherwise it will stew rather than roast). Roast until just tender, which should take about 15 mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Turn your oven down to 180OC. Put the milk and cream into In a heavy- based saucepan, bring to the boil, then add the vanilla. Beat the eggs, extra yolk and the rest of the sugar in a separate bowl. Pour in the warmed milk and cream, stirring continuously. Pour back into the pan and put to one side. Butter your bread. Mix the ricotta with the icing sugar (if using), spread the ricotta on top of your bread and sprinkle the zests on top of the ricotta. To assemble the pudding, layer alternate slices of the bread and rhubarb in the oven dish. Pour over the milk, cream and egg mixture. Leave the pudding to sit for half an hour before baking, this allows the liquid to be absorbed by the bread and makes the pudding lighter. Place the oven dish inside a large roasting tin and half fill the roasting tin with boiling water. Bake for around 40 mins until the top is golden. Leave to cool for 10mins and then serve with creme fraiche, yoghurt or ice cream.

(original recipe by Diana Henry)

Rhubarb gin

Rhubarb gin

* Preparation time: 10 mins

* Resting time: ovenight, plus 4 weeks to mature

Ingredients

  • 1kg rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
  • 400g white caster sugar (golden will make the resulting colour less clear)
  • 8 thin slices of fresh ginger (optional)
  • 800ml gin

Method

In a large preserving jar or other sealable container place your rhubarb, sugar and ginger if using and give it a little shake, leave overnight as the sugar will draw the juice out of the rhubarb. The next day add the gin, seal and mix everything together. Leave to mingle for 4 weeks before drinking. Then enjoy with ice, tonic and a spring of rosemary.

(original recipe by Diana Henry)

Baked rhubarb and ginger

Baked rhubarb and ginger

One of the simplest and easiest ways to enjoy this seasonal beauty. The addition of butter and salt really makes this simple dish stand out.

* Serves: 4

* Preparation time: 10 mins

* Cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 550g forced rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces.
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 2 balls stem ginger from a jar, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • good knob of butter, broken into smaller bits

Method

Preheat your oven to 200OC, 180OC fan, gas mark 6. Toss all the ingredients together, making sure the rhubarb is well coated in the sugar and butter.

Put into a roasting tin, ensuring that the rhubarb is in a single layer so that it roasts rather than steams. Bake for 15 mins, you are aiming for the pieces of rhubarb to stay intact, so watch it carefully. Serve whilst warm with creamy plain yoghurt or ice cream.

Enjoy!

(Bread and butter pudding and rhubarb gin adapted from recipes by Diana Henry)

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