Saturday, May 30, 2009

Food: Roasted Rhubarb and Yogurt

One of my favorite things about spring isn't the fact the weather is getting warmer or the flowers have begun to bloom (even though I look forward to both of these). Instead, it has to do with the availability of one of my favorite vegetables - the ruby pink, celery-looking sticks of the rhubarb plant.

It's interesting to me that anyone ever thought to try rhubarb stalks since their roots and leaves are poisonous and an initial passing of the raw, crunchy veggie on your tongue would make your mouth pucker in disdain over the not-so-pleasant experience.
And no, to those of you who think you've really tasted rhubarb before, if you're counting the one time you had Strawberry Rhubarb pie, it doesn't count (in my opinion, when cooking with rhubarb, it should always be the main star of the dish or sauce, not a seeming afterthought).

So how did I become to love rhubarb so much? It starts with my mom. Although I love to cook, my mom and sister are the bakers of the family. And my mother is a queen when it comes to making pies. Over the years she has completely perfected pie crust. Hers is an amazing, light, flaky shell that makes you never want to attempt to try store-bought or restaurant pie ever again. But my favorite element of any pie she makes is the filling - particularly rhubarb. She probably gets tired of asking me what kind of pie I would like when my answer is always, never failingly, "rhubarb, please." I could probably eat an entire rhubarb pie in one sitting (although it probably wouldn't be a good idea).
Since I haven't learned my mom's craft and the favorite part of a rhubarb pie to me is the filling, I was estatic when I found this recipe for Roasted Rhubarb on the Wednesday Chef's blog. Yes, it's shown here in a plastic container - I brought it to work with my lunch one day (which if you do this, be sure to pack the yogurt and rhubarb separately and combine them right before eating to avoid watery yogurt). I'm sure some of my co-workers (male management consultants where are definitely not foodies) were looking at what I was eating like I was a little strange. I mixed it here with Dannon 100% Natural Vanilla yogurt and I'm sure it would be even more decadant with Fage yogurt (although this time I was looking for something low-in-fat).




Rose Gray's and Ruth Rogers's Roasted Rhubarb
via the Wednesday Chef

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces rhubarb
  • 1 blood or navel orange (or 1 lemon)
  • 2 vanilla beans or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (or more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (more if you're using the lemon)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the rhubarb into 2-to-2 1/2-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of half the orange over the rhubarb and then squeeze the juice of the whole orange into the bowl. Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds and place both in the bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  • Pour the rhubarb into a baking dish and arrange the pieces so that they lie flat. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla pods.

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