Ruby red rhubarb from Gilbert Quintos Farm adds a dash of color to the Little Italy Mercato farmers' market this week. Look for long, thin stalks that resemble celery but with a characteristic crimson color and large, red ribbed leaves at the end.
Botanically speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable, but it’s often regarded as a fruit due its sweet-tart flavor that makes it a favorite in desserts. It’s traditionally known as “The Pie Plant” because of its popularity as a pie filling, where it excels alone or in combination with strawberries from Kawano or JR Organics, or apples from Smit Orchards. It’s also great in Susan Russo's Rhubard Crumble using Pudwill berries, tarts, muffins, or a cheesecake made with fresh quark from Springhill Cheese Company.
Besides making magnificent desserts, rhubarb can be a great addition to savory dishes, like this Crispy Roast Chicken with Rhubarb and Fennel, which we make with naturally raised chicken from DaLe Ranch, onions from Vang's Farm, heirloom garlic from Sage Moutain Farm and fennel from Suzie’s Farm. You could also coat that chicken with Rhubarb BBQ Sauce and grill. For an amazingly refreshing summer beverage, try this homemade rhubarb soda; we sweetened ours with honey from Mikolich bees and it was delicious. Only a few farmers in California raise rhubarb, so hurry to the Mercato to pick some up!