By Janeen A. Sarlin
Rhubarb is related to the buckwheat family; botanically speaking it is not a fruit but rather an herbaceous plant.
The leaves are toxic but the dark pink/red stems are high in calcium and potassium. Because it is very tart, rhubarb is palatable only after adding sugar or a sweetener of your choice.
Choose pink/red stalks but if green-stalked rhubarb is what you have, strip off the tough skin and proceed. The flavor is just as good but the color is not as vibrant as the red.
Growing up in Minnesota, my “other mother,” Rebecca Alexander, grew the most picture-perfect garden. A bountiful bed of red rhubarb grew at one end, and from its produce she baked a cake that was as much springtime as the tulips and irises at the other end of the garden.
The Warm Rhubarb Compote With Vanilla Yogurt Timbale is probably one of the easiest rhubarb dishes ever, and Rebecca’s Rhubarb Cake is sure to become a delicious favorite. Bon appétit!
Warm Rhubarb Compote With Vanilla Yogurt Timbale
Adapted from “Healthy 1-2-3: The Ultimate Three-Ingredient Cookbook, Fat-Free, Low Fat, Low Calorie” by Rozanne Gold.
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1½ pounds fresh rhubarb, preferably red
1/2 cup sundried cherries
1/2 cup good quality currant jelly, or more to taste
Spoon yogurt into 6 3-ounce paper cups.
Smooth the tops, then set the cups in muffin tins and place in the freezer until semi-soft, about 1 hour. Do not freeze solid.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the green leaves of the rhubarb and discard.
Wash stems and cut into 1½- to 2-inch lengths.
Drain but don’t dry.
Scatter the rhubarb in a shallow casserole dish.
Add cherries and jelly.
Stir until the rhubarb is coated.
Bake until the rhubarb is tender, stirring 2 or 3 times, about 35 minutes.
Taste and adjust the sweetness.
Cool compote about 5 minutes, then divide it among 6 glass compote or shallow soup bowls.
Unmold the yogurt on top and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Serve at once and enjoy the yogurt as it melts into the rhubarb.
Rebecca’s Rhubarb Cake
(Makes 10 to 12 servings)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups diced, fresh rhubarb
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for topping
1 teaspoon cinnamon, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch cake pan and set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and beat until light.
Gradually add brown sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly,
Sift flour, salt and baking soda together in a separate bowl.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the batter, starting and ending with flour.
Mix well after each addition.
Chop rhubarb into small dice and fold it into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Stir the cinnamon into the sugar and sprinkle it over the top of the batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set pan on a rack to cool 15 to 20 minutes.
To serve, cut slightly warm cake into serving-sized pieces, top with ice cream and dust the top with cinnamon.