Always so pretty in pink. The sight of a greengrocers display of neatly stacked forced rhubarb from the famous ‘Yorkshire Triangle’, makes my heart leap. Whether you simply chop and gently poach these beauties or prefer to whizz them up into a brightly coloured smoothie that is going to pack a punch you are assured of a delicious treat. These nurtured stems are grown in dark barns under candlelight and hail from a nine square mile corner of West Yorkshire. This designated area between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell has become synonymous for producing early forced rhubarb.
The delicate stems of Yorkshire rhubarb are much sweeter than garden rhubarb that will start peeking through our allotments and vegetable patches at the end of March and early April. Grown with meticulous care and attention, this early crop is far sweeter but also provides a delicious tartness that will partner well with rich creamy dishes as well as seasonal citrus such as blood oranges and zingy root ginger.
As soon as you manage to seek some for yourself, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy this seasonal treat….
- For an early morning ‘pick me up’ that will brighten your spirits all through the day, blitz a stem of rhubarb with a small piece of fresh ginger and the juice of a couple of blood oranges.
- When the pace is slower, gently poach evenly chopped stems in a little cloudy pressed apple juice, partner with honey or a sprinkling of soft brown sugar and some candied stem ginger. Cook uncovered in an earthenware dish, in a low oven until the stems are just tender. Leave to cool and serve alongside porridge made with almond milk or a stack of griddled pancakes for a weekend brunch.
- Pickle a few stems in some cider vinegar infused with pink peppercorns, bay, a slither or two of ginger and soft brown sugar. Serve with a crisp radicchio salad, land cress and mackerel pate alongside toasted sourdough.
- Opt for the classic rhubarb and sauce anglaise. Make your own homemade vanilla sauce using free range eggs, traditional custard tart generously grated with nutmeg or, if time allows, homemade ice cream.
- If your seeking comfort then a good old fashioned rice pudding will hit the spot. Select short grain or Arborio rice with full fat milk or almond milk. You may like to add a tablespoon of cornflour and an egg yolk to add an extra creaminess to the pudding. Serve with rhubarb compote and chopped pistachio.
Later on in the season, you may like to try…
Making a batch of forced rhubarb and ginger jam.
Prepare a tart filled with frangipane and finish with stems of forced rhubarb.
Bake a rhubarb and almond cake.
And of course there is always crumble!