Loving Rhubarb and Rhubarb Ribbons
I love rhubarb so much that I named our wee little dog Rhubarb. I grew up as eating rhubarb, raw, if you can believe that. Nobody seemed to tell me that eating raw rhubarb in large quantities can give you an upset tummy. Rhubarb, since it is so fibrous and tart, always tastes better cooked.
I have always had rhubarb planted in our garden and am so excited to see its dark green leaves breaking soil in early May. Did you know that one rhubarb plant will provide you with fresh seasonal rhubarb every Spring for up to 17 or more years? And these plants are not expensive to buy, hardy, and super resilient. So if you can plant it, do so, since buying rhubarb in the city for the local grocer can cost an arm and a leg.
So, how do you properly store rhubarb once you buy or harvest its stalks?
Well, think of rhubarb like celery. The only BIG difference is that celery leaves are edible, rhubarb leaves are toxic. Remove the large leaves and tough bottom stems, discard, and wrap rhubarb stalks tightly in foil in your fridge to maximize its life span. Ideally, rhubarb should be used up or frozen within a few days. To freeze rhubarb, chop into chunks and lay flat on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes to partially freeze, then transfer to a freezer safe bag or container. Flat freezing like this first prevents the rhubarb from freezing into one big lump that you cannot break apart.
Here is my ode to rhubarb recipe for this spring. A Rhubarb Ribboned Vanilla Cream Tart. Reimagine rhubarb this season and try it in more than just a pie. What about a compote, chutney, or salsa? A tart and savory rhubarb glaze for pork or chicken? I hope you love cooking with rhubarb as much as I do.
Rhubarb Ribboned Vanilla Cream Tart
- vegetable peeler, tart pan with removable bottom
For the Tart Shell
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter grated with box grater
- 3 Tbsp ice cold water
For the Vanilla Custard
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-Purpose flour
- pinch salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp 100% pure vanilla extract
For the Rhubarb Ribbons
- 3-6 stalks rhubarb (depends on thickness of rhubarb stalks) trim leaves and discard
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
Make Pastry Shell and Blind Bake
- In large mixing bowl, combine flour with salt and add grated butter to coat in flour.
- With a fork, stir in ice cold water to form a shaggy dough. Then with hands start to knead until dough just starts to stick together into a ball. Add a drizzle more cold water if necessary. I find this easier if I dump dough onto a clean, flat, floured surface. Once you form a dough ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. You can also freeze dough for a later time and thaw in fridge.
- When ready to roll out and blind bake, preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out dough on a cleaned floured surface with a rolling pin until it fits the tart pan you are using (9-10 inch round or rectangular). A little overhang is easily trimmed off by rolling the rolling pin overtop of tart pan. Prick bottom of dough with a fork to prevent dough from rising up then line with a piece of parchment and fill with pie weights, dry rice or beans.
- Bake 12 minutes, then remove parchment and pie weights, and bake again for another 12-15 minutes until pie shell is golden brown. Let cool completely on cooling rack before filling.
For Vanilla Custard
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in the milk until the mixture has a smooth texture. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture.
- Pour this warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and, whisking constantly, bring to low simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thicker. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Stir in butter and vanilla extract until the butter is melted. If lumpy, strain through a fine sieve set over a medium bowl. Place wrap directly on the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
Make Rhubarb Ribbons
- In a large fry pan over medium high heat, add water and sugar and let simmer until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to a low.
- With a vegetable peeler, shave the rhubarb stalks into thin strips. This requires a little muscle, pressing down on peeler to get good long strips. Submerge 4-5 rhubarb strips at a time in the hot sugar mixture and let them cook for about 10 seconds or until slightly softened. Lay the cooked rhubarb strips flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with rest of the rhubarb strips.
- Save the remaining sugar syrup! It will be delicious and a beautiful bright pink color. Let the syrup cool and then refrigerate to pour over tart or yogurt or ice cream later!
Assemble and Serve
- Pour cooled custard into cooled baked tart crust and level with the back of a spoon or small offset spatula. Then carefully layer rhubarb ribbons overtop, overlapping slightly. Trim off any rhubarb ribbon overhang with scissors and brush the top lightly with a little of the reserved sugar syrup. Cut with a sharp knife and serve with reserved rhubarb syrup.
Enjoyed my rhubarb ribboned vanilla cream tart recipe? Be sure to save it!