By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine
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.
Recipes to Try:
Get the Strawberry-and-Rhubarb Dessert I Made Here, plus More Delicious, Healthy Spring Dessert Recipes
Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge, Roasted Rhubarb Porridge and More Amazing Rhubarb Recipes
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.
This year I'm going to diversify beyond desserts. I'll add rhubarb to my oatmeal for breakfast and for lunch or dinner I'll top a leafy green salad with roasted rhubarb. Be careful: you, too, may catch the rhubarb fevah!
Roasted Rhubarb Salad
Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 40 minutes
Rhubarb roasted for just a few minutes is a tart topping for a mixed green salad with raisins, walnuts and goat cheese.
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Toss rhubarb with sugar in a medium bowl until well coated; let stand, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, oil, shallot, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add greens; toss to coat with the dressing. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top with the rhubarb, goat cheese (or feta), walnuts and raisins.
Per serving: 197 calories; 12 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 6 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 211 mg sodium; 387 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (21% daily value), Vitamin C (17% dv).
Tip: To toast chopped nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
What's your favorite thing to cook with rhubarb?
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
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