I recently read that rhubarb is in fact a vegetable. But apparently, at some point, the United States Customs Court ruled that rhubarb was a fruit. Really? A government decision to decide whether rhubarb should be labeled a fruit? And what about the laws of nature? Without plenty of sugar, brace yourself! Bamm, it’s bracingly sour. With its poisonous leaves and crisp, juicy stalks, rhubarb is an odd fruit. It’s amazing that we ever came to eating it at all. Nonetheless it’s got to be one of most delicious foods of the spring season. That is for us rhubarb fans.
Did you know that the leaves contain high levels of a natural toxin called oxalyic acid? Thankfully our gut is stimulated to reject it — just imagine, this the stuff that is used in ink, stain remover and metal polish. Nasty stuff. Best focus on its gorgeous stalk and the sugar that transforms it into something spectacular and delicious!
Fact is, I love this “pie plant”. As a kid, we spent most of the spring devouring rhubarb in the garden; mostly raw dipped in sugar, or stewed with plenty of sugar and served with vanilla ice cream. Sadly deprived of enjoying it in a pie. Or is my memory simply selective? Nonetheless, we ate loads of it!
For those of you that like rhubarb with sugar, and LOTS of it, then just add 1-2 tablespoons more sugar to the rhubarb base. My version is sweet (in my opinion, sweet enough) but perhaps not as sweet as some of us may be accustomed to.
Baked Rhubarb and Oats
400 g rhubarb, trimmed and cut it into 1–2cm pieces (about 5-6 stalks)
finely grated zest of 1 organic orange, plus freshly squeezed juice of half the orange
1 cup fine oats (100 g)
5 tablespoons cream
6 tablespoons soft brown sugar (I recommend GEPA organic raw cane sugar Mascobado)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F / 180°C.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the rhubarb with 4 tablespoons sugar, the orange zest and juice of half the orange. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized (ca. 28 x 22 cm) ovenproof dish. Spread evenly.
3. In a small bowl, mix the oats with the remaining sugar, add the cream and mix until combined. Drop spoonfuls of the topping over the rhubarb.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is brown and rhubarb is tender. Serve and enjoy!