Rhubarb moves from sweet to savory


Rhubarb season is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. Usually that means pies, tarts, and crisps, but chefs are taking a look at using rhubarb in savory applications as well. The Washington Post recently devised a contest for three area sous-chefs to come up with a savory spring rhubarb dish, and the results were fabulous.

The challenge was to find a way to tame rhubarb’s puckery tart flavor without using copious amounts of sugar. One of the contestants, Krystal Cripe of the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, said “Rhubarb is definitely a difficult ingredient to work with. People are used to seeing it in sweet desserts, with … something sweet to cut that tartness. It was tough to get that balance in savory.”

In addition to the constraints on using rhubarb in a savory application, there were other limits on the contest. “The dish could incorporate just six ingredients (not including salt and pepper). And when the sous-chefs gathered at cooking school CulinAerie, they had just one hour to prepare their dish.” The dishes they devised included a chilled rhubarb-strawberry soup with black pepper ricotta, grilled smoked foie gras with burnt rhubarb vinaigrette, and duck breast and foie gras with wild rice pilaf and cherry-rhubarb preserve. The EYB Library contains other interesting savory rhubarb dishes for you to try.

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  • wester  on  May 16, 2015

    Rhubarb with strawberry, rhubarb with cherry, rhubarb with balsamico… Wow, really revolutionary. Really savory too. But then, these people are probably too "culinary" to make a meat stew with rhubarb, like they do in the Middle East.

  • darcie_b  on  May 16, 2015

    Funny you should mention that – a Persian rhubarb and lamb stew is the first savory recipe that pops up in the EYB Library…

  • Hnorahs50  on  May 16, 2015

    many years ago, maybe around 1970 when we lived in Denver on the way home from school there was someone who grew rhubarb. I know it has been many years but as I remember she just gave us stalks out of her garden that we would eat like celery..

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