Rhubarb: Not Just for Dessert

Rhubarb is a tart vegetable mostly served as a dessert with heaps of sugar. You can enjoy the health benefits of this plentiful vegetable without the huge amounts of sugar with these savory recipes (and one dessert recipe). The sugar that I do use in these recipes is from maple syrup and molasses or sweeter fruit, supplying a small amount of vitamins and minerals, in place of the empty calorie counterpart of cane sugar. Weight loss and weight control will benefit from the mindful use of sweeteners and by using sweeteners that provide some nutrition.


Rhubarb is a common, easy to grow plant. It is one of the first plants that can be harvested here in New England making it a welcome sign of warm weather and sunshine. Rhubarb can be continuously used throughout the summer and into the fall and grown year-round in warmer climates. Rhubarb also freezes very well. You can join us here on Monhegan Island for our Fall Abundance retreat to taste some of these savory and sweet recipes.

Health and Nutrition Benefits:

  • Good source of Calcium
  • Lutein: nutrient essential for eye and skin health; neutralizes free radicals
  • Vitamin K
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin C, may be depleted with prolonged high temperatures
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Vitamin A
  • Good for digestion and mild laxative


poached          heaping yogurt


Poached Rhubarb Recipe

2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2″ chunks

1/2 cup or less molasses

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1 Tablespoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 Tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid  aminos (less if using on yogurt, more if using on meats or tofu)

4-8 Tablespoons water

Combine sugar and rhubarb in non-aluminum saucepan, let stand until rhubarb releases juices, about 15 minutes. Add cinnamon, cloves, orange zest and red pepper flakes. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a boil, stir constantly for 3 minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until thickened, stir occasionally. Remove pan from heat and let rhubarb cool.

Serve warmed on roast pork tenderloin or cold on Greek yogurt.


chard salad



Shaved Rhubarb and Chard Salad

adapted from Alice Water’s recipe

Serves 2-4

1 bunch of chard

2 stalks rhubarb, leaves removed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Remove the leaves of the chard and wash. Cook in boiling salted water until tender about 5 minutes. If using baby chard like the ones seen in this picture, no need to cook first. Strain and allow to cool, lightly squeeze out some of the water. Chop the leaves coarsely. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.

With the large grate side of a box shredder, shred rhubarb onto salad.

Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil. Toss chard and rhubarb, mound onto plates and sprinkle with coarse ground salt and pepper.

Serve with avocado and sauteed shrimp to create a main dish accompanied by crusty bread.




Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub

A shrub is a vinegary sweet syrup that can be added to seltzer or cocktails for a refreshing treat.

1 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced

3/4 cup rhubarb

1 cup maple syrup

10 black peppercorns, slightly crushed

1 cup chocolate balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Combine fruit, peppercorns, and maple syrup in a bowl, stir to evenly coat the fruit. Let sit for 1 hour and then macerate (squish) the mixture. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, macerate the fruit again. Add vinegars and stir well. Store at room temperature for 7-9 days, stirring daily. When finished, pour mixture through cheesecloth-line sieve, then transfer to a clean jar or container. Store in the refrigerator.


Although, rhubarb is NOT  just for dessert, Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie is delicious, here is my take on the traditional pie.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

3 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced

3 cups rhubarb, leaves removed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar like Fiore

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup maple syrup

1 pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients except pie crust. Set aside and allow to marinate for a bit while you roll out your pie crust.

Roll the pie crust nice and thin and larger than normal allowing the crust to fall 3-4 inches outside of the pie pan.

Fill the crust with the fruit mixture, fold the crust over to cover the fruit, leaving an opening to allow the steam to come out.

Optional: beat one egg and brush on crust, sprinkle with coarse sugar like demerara. 

Bake for 1 hour on a baking sheet to protect the oven from bubbling juices. Allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving with no sugar added whipped cream.