Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and no matter how you’re celebrating, we’d say there’s a fairly good chance that food will be involved. Since the weather is finally starting to get warm, why not incorporate a truly seasonal ingredient into your gathering? We’re talking about rhubarb. The deliciously tart yet slightly sweet veggie has a unique flavor that makes it perfect for everything from main courses to desserts to cocktails. Chances are you’ve admired a rhubarb pie or two on Instagram or Pinterest, and while pie is one of the best ways to cook the ingredient, there are so many other ways to use it. Enter: Libbie Summers—chef, food blogger, and author—who has five no-fail rhubarb-centric recipes that are sure to keep things feeling festive.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Salsa
For those in need of sprucing up a main course, Libbie’s rhubarb and strawberry salsa is the answer. “If fruits and vegetables could speed date, this would be the perfect recipe for them,” she says. Not into strawberry? “Substitute chopped Bing cherries for the strawberries, or mix it up and sub in chopped kiwi for the tart rhubarb. Anything goes!” Of course, we’re partial to the original version, but one of the great things about fruit and veggie salsas is that they’re totally adaptable to your tastes. Plus, they’re quick and easy to make.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Salsa
(crunchy tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries + heat)
makes about 2 cups
What you need:
– 3 stalks rhubarb, leaves removed and diced
– 6 strawberries, diced
– 1/4 red onion, diced
– 1/4 jalapeno, finely diced (more if you like more heat)
– 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– Flake sea salt
– Coarsely ground black pepper
What to do:
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients. Spoon over grilled chicken, shrimp or scallops.
Need a little help? Here’s a video that breaks this recipe down.
For a crowd-pleasing dessert, give this one a try. “Once you master the art of pâte à choux (and it ain’t hard!) you’ll always have a go-to dessert in your arsenal,” says Libbie. “These profiteroles are ideal, as the pastry and rhubarb cream can be made two days in advance of your event and piped together just before serving. This is an easy dessert for 100—an easier dessert for eight.” Any experienced party host can tell you that being able to make the key components ahead of time is life-changing.
Ginger Rhubarb Pie
No matter the season, you can’t go wrong with pie. Rhubarb is to spring what apples are to fall, and this yummy dessert is perfectly seasonal for the month of May. “The first time I made this recipe was for 20 hungry sailors on Block Island, RI. I had just enough rhubarb for four pies, and judging by the way they devoured it, I wish I had enough for six,” Libbie recalls. “Moral of the story: Always bake more pies than you think you’ll need!” So yeah, you might want to stock up on some extra ingredients for this one. And if you’re not sure how to pick the best pieces in the grocery store, Libbie says you should “look for fresh crisp stalks. Cut off any green leaves and peel off any loose stringy pieces before cooking.”
Everyone loves a great creative cocktail, and this one works well as an aperitif or a post-dinner drink. “The recipe for rhubarb puree used to make these intoxicating bellinis is great for using up extra rhubarb at the end of the season,” says Libbie. In fact, this is another concoction you can make ahead of time. “Cook up a batch, and freeze for a taste of spring time any time of the year,” she suggests. As for how to serve, she suggests using a stalk of rhubarb as a stir stick for extra rhubarb drama.
Flowers are always a good move when you’re setting up a tablescape you want your friends and family to remember, but if you’re looking for something extra special, make rhubarb the center of attention. “I love this centerpiece because it is not only colorful and food-inspired, but it also lasts for ten days!” Libbie says. Seems like a no-brainer to us, especially if you’re going to be serving a dish or two with the ingredient.