More Rhubarb


I love to eat rhubarb now, but when I was little I didn’t, especially stewed into a gluey pink mess and served for breakfast.   Disguised as pie, however, with strawberries added  and mother’s melt-in–your mouth pie crust, it was not the same vegetable at all.  It  seemed miraculous to me that such a sour stalk could turn into the magic of mother’s pie.

Last summer an old friend brought me several cookbooks, among them  THE SLOW MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN (Recipes for the Passionate Cook) . She brought them all the way from California, no less, but I was in an anti-cooking mode.   From spending a lot of time in my kitchen baking bread and cookies and experimenting with complex flavors and textures, to simply  grilled meat, steamed vegetables, and potatoes in some form for Mister, or micro-waved frozen prepared meals. There are some very good ones now, galaxies away from the tasteless  chicken pies and cardboard pizza’s of the fifties, but still.  Not home made. No heart-warming aroma in the house, no piles of fruit and vegetables, nobody in the kitchen. A home needs somebody in the kitchen. My waist-line improved though.

A few weeks ago, for reasons no doubt deeply buried in my sub-conscious, I was drawn back to my cook books, and the kitchen. I started browsing the books she had brought me. As she is a brilliant cook, I knew they must contain some unusual and delicious recipes, and they do. That’s where I discovered rhubarb salad, which in this recipe you put on salmon poached in olive oil, but you could easily eat as a side dish with pork as well.

To serve 4, you slice 2 young rhubarb stalks and a medium cucumber; slice the rhubarb into thin diagonal slices, and cut the cucumber into very thin rounds. Add 2 tablespoons of coarse salt and let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain. Toss with a couple of handfuls of arugula, add some lemon juices, garnish with fresh mint leaves, and voila. It is a refreshingly tangy condiment or salad.

I put some in with some cranberries and it made a delicious sauce, which is now molding in the frig because Bernard uses Branston Pickle instead. He uses it for all cold meat, and if we run out he goes into withdrawal.  Although he politely tried my concoction, he damned it with faint praise and reached for the Branston. Oh, well. I made too much of it anyway. It was good, though, and makes a nice alternative to regular cranberry sauce, if you haven’t already tried it.