June 9th is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day. We’ve previously published recipes for the strawberry-rhubarb pie and strawberry-rhubarb bars.
Today, how about a relative of pie: a shortcake (scones) with strawberry-rhubarb sauce (recipe, photo #2)?
Or, a very easy recipe, below (photo #1): stewed strawberries and rhubarb, which can be served as a sauce with scones, pound cake, etc.; a chilled soup; as a compote, layered with whipped cream; or with plain or flavored yogurt.
FOOD TRIVIA: Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable, a member of the sorrel family. Before it was sweetened by British cooks, it was added to soups (try it in lentil soup), sauces and stews—Moroccan tagines and Middle Eastern stews, for example.
Be sure to cook only the stems; the leaves are mildly toxic (they contain oxalic acid).
This recipe came to us from from Nina Palmer of Eat Well 101.
If you want to make ice cream to go with it, consider lavender, peach, rhubarb or saffron ice cream.
Ingredients For 6 Servings
1. WASH and peel the rhubarb, and cut the stalks into 1/3 inch sections. Place them in a saucepan with the sugar and let sit for 20 minutes.
2. SPLIT the vanilla bean in half, and scraping the seeds out so they can more easily infuse the fruit. Add both the pod and the seeds to the pot.
3. WASH and hull the strawberries, and cut them into quarters. Cook the rhubarb over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the strawberries and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange juice.
4. REMOVE the pod and allow to cool before transferring to a covered bowl and storing in the fridge until ready to use (the scraped seeds remain as flecks in the compote). The sauce should be served cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Rhubarb is an ancient plant, cultivated in China since 2700 B.C.E. for medicinal purposes (it was a highly-valued laxative). Much later (at the end of the 12th century), Marco Polo wrote about it at length in the accounts of his travels in China, suggesting that the plant had not yet made it to southern Europe.
Different strains of rhubarb grew wild elsewhere, as well, including in Russia. Its genus name, Rheum, is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga River, on whose banks the plants grew.
It was added to soups (try it in lentil soup!) and sauces in the Himalayas and later arrived in the Middle East, where it was used in Moroccan tagines and Middle Eastern stews.
Records show that rhubarb was cultivated in Italy in 1608 and 20 to 30 years later in Europe. A 1778 record shows that rhubarb had become a food plant in Europe as a vegetable.
At some point, rhubarb was sweetened by British cooks as a filling for tarts and pies.
The earliest written record of rhubarb in the U.S. concerns a gardener in Maine who obtained seed or root stock from Europe, sometime between 1790-1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts where its popularity spread. [source]
Here’s more about rhubarb, including why rhubarb is a vegetable and not a fruit.
HERE’S THE HISTORY OF STRAWBERRIES
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