Just hearing the word “rhubarb” makes me think of my mother and grandmother. Both grew the perennial vegetable in their gardens in central Oregon.
But now, it also makes me think of an Amish woman from Indiana that I spent some time with a few years ago. She served rhubarb juice and rhubarb/strawberry jam at her house one day in late May. Both were canned the summer before. Both were delicious.
I’ve thought of rhubarb as a main ingredient in sweet dishes—including pies, cakes, and cobblers—but when I searched the Internet for “savory rhubarb recipes,” I came across pork and rhubarb, chicken and rhubarb, and even rhubarb lentil curry. I’ll save those recipes for another time, probably for cool autumn dinners.
I’ve also always thought of rhubarb as a bit old-fashioned. But another web search proved myself wrong again—it’s absolutely ancient. The Chinese used it for medicinal purposes, and it first appeared in print in The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, which was compiled about 2,700 years ago. (FYI, I learned this straight from Wikipedia.)
Rhubarb used to be referred to as “pie-plant.” It’s as hardy as the pioneers who relied on it to come up early in the spring and last late into the fall. It’s highly nutritious and the stalks contain dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins, including several B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin K. However, the leaves of the plant are poisonous.
I remember my mother making rhubarb pies, but since I’m on deadline right now (the first novel in my Neighbors of Lancaster County series is due in a few weeks!), I opted to make a time-saving rhubarb crisp. It’s very easy and absolutely delicious.
- 4 cups rhubarb (cut stalks into ½ inch pieces)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup melted butter
Combine rhubarb, sugar, ¼ cup flour, and cinnamon. Put into a glass pie plate or a similar-size ceramic dish.
Combine ¾ cup flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, pecans, and melted butter and spread over rhubarb mixture.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Leslie Gould is the author of nineteen novels, including the #1 bestselling and Christy award-winning The Amish Midwife, which was co-authored with Mindy Starns Clark. Leslie’s current solo series, The Courtships of Lancaster County, is inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. The next novel in the series is Becoming Bea, a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, and releases in October. She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children.
Purchase Leslie’s books here.
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