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Dining In — Recipe of the Week: Rhubarb, a favorite counterpoint to strawberries

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Along with the strawberries currently in season, some local farms and farm markets are offering long, reddish stalks of crisp rhubarb, a perfect counterpoint to the sweet berries.

Technically a vegetable, rhubarb has been around for eons and was originally used as medicine in ancient Asia. It is low in calories and high in nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and manganese.

A cool-weather plant, you won’t find local rhubarb once temperatures start to rise to their summer heights. Locally, Rick’s Egg Farm in Kintnersville is known for its rhubarb, which also is sold at the nearby Trauger’s Farm Market. Trauger’s also brings its produce to the Doylestown Farmers Market each Saturday. You also can find rhubarb at your local supermarket.

Rhubarb can be cooked with strawberries or alone, as long as you add lots of sugar and avoid the leaves, which are poisonous. Rhubarb is known as the “pie plant” for its most common use in pies, although it also can be cooked into a sweet or savory sauce, roasted with sugar, and used in cobblers, crisps and dessert bars like the recipe below. Chefs also like rhubarb for its tangy taste and use it in chutneys, relishes, salsa and barbecue sauce.

Locally, rhubarb stalks grow more than a foot tall, but for the world’s largest varieties you have to head for Alaska, where they have been known to grow as high as 5 feet tall.

For a taste of spring and a flavorful companion for strawberries, you can’t beat rhubarb.

This recipe is from the butter experts at landolakes.com:

Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert Bars

1½ cups fresh or frozen unsweetened rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces

1½ cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Crust:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

¾ cup butter, softened

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

Drizzle:

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Step 1: Combine rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice in 2-quart saucepan. Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 12 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Step 2: Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in bowl. Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Step 3: Heat oven to 350°F.

Step 4: Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Step 5: Reserve 1½ cups crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom of greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Step 6: Combine drizzle ingredients in bowl. Drizzle over cooled bars. Cut into bars.


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