Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Leonardo's Rhubarb Obsession

Rainbow Chard.  I love it.
If I see some at the farmer's market I simply cannot buy fewer than two bags. I love it steamed, the younger leaves in a salad, sauted with olive oil and garlic and now like this, with my least favourite vegetable, rhubarb.
I have only recently rediscovered that rhubarb is a vegetable. I'm sure I learnt it a long time ago but pushed it right to the back of my mind. It's a shame, it would have made a great quiz question for the few that I've put together for various family members over the last few years.
L and I sit on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to rhubarb. I would quite happily dig the plant up or just let it go to seed whereas L has been on my case ever since we moved: 'Please could you make a crumble or a pie tonight?' 'Why don't I go and pick some rhubarb for you to cook tonight?'
So I have humoured him and he has had one crumble, some rhubarb and cinnamon muffins, a huge batch rhubarb and custard ice cream for the restaurant and rhubarb stewed with blood orange and some meringues that I whipped up using the egg whites left over from the ice cream. I have also been thinking about making some rhubarb and white chocolate macaroons.
Mostly however I have been freezing the pink stalks ready to use later in the year.
And then of course, on rediscovering that the bitter pink stalks are a vegetable, I decided to use it as much as possible in savoury cooking.
This little contorno is all I've been able to do so far, but as soon as I spotted in it Jamie Oliver's magazine (which I only bought because it was the Italian issue), I knew I had to make it. It was delicious. A sort of Italian sweet and sour. Jamie uses spinach for this, but I think that the chard adds a bit more colour, especially if your rhubarb isn't the bright pink forced kind like mine.

Warm Rainbow Chard and Rhubarb Salad (serves 2)

200g rhubarb, diagonally sliced
40g sugar (I used Xylitol)
1tbsp white wine vinegar
200g rainbow chard, leaves chopped in three
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Put the rhubarb and sugar in a large frying pan and add 150ml water. Bring to a boil and simmer for two minutes, until the rhubarb is just tender.
Remove the rhubarb to a serving dish with a slotted spoon.
Add the vinegar to the pan and turn up the heat to reduce the liquid to about 2tbsp. Pour the reduction into a jar and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste.
Put another drizzle of olive oil into the pan and tip in the rainbow chard. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes, stirring occassionally, before tipping it onto the serving dish with the rhubarb.
Mix the two together a little before drizzling with the dressing and serve warm.


  1. My neighbor always gives me some of her Rhubarb when it starts coming in. Will bookmark this recipe for when she sends me a batch.

  2. Thanks so much for your visit and your kind comment. I must try rhubarb with chard as I grow the latter all year round. I often put rhubarb into sauerkraut when we go German! Diane

  3. Interesting. I've only ever heard of Swiss chard. Do you think that would work here as well? Great post!

  4. I was just thinking about rhubarb, wondering if I could find it at a French market. The savoury idea is intriguing - Rowley Leigh made something similar with mackerel that I would love to try:

    Your little sister told me about your blog, I like it a lot. Hereford, but more sophisticated than I remember it!

    Happy Spring!


  5. Rhubarb is not easily available over here! Your salad looks wonderful. Would love to try rhubarb as soon as I can find some!

  6. Rainbow chard is one of my favorites - I just had some that I put in a soup, stems and all. I've only ever seen rhubarb frozen, maybe I should look harder

  7. A very original sald! I always forget to make savory dishes with my rhubarb...



  8. rainbow chard, how lovely!! a perfect spring treat!!


  9. You do like swiss chard! I love rhubarb, but never thought to use it in a savory dish! Too bad we really don't get good rhubarb here in Florida. This dish looks very interesting...I would love to take a bite!