A lovely Spring Supper! Rhubarb vinegar adds a special touch, color and zesty flavor
This recipe is a pure celebration of Spring! Rhubarb is abundant, this big, old-fashioned plant sports gorgeous pink stalks with ruffled green leaves (although leaves are not edible.) My love for rhubarb goes back to my grandparent’s fruitful garden in Long Island, NY where it thrived. Stewing it was a memorable preparation I enjoyed as where flaky pies studded with strawberries. Botanically a vegetable, it is called a “pie plant” and considered a fruit – mostly showing up in jams and lovely pies. Creative chefs and cooks praise it’s rich jewel color and sharp, tangy-sweet essence. When roasted in the oven, it holds it’s shape, on the stovetop it falls apart quickly.
Making rhubarb vinegar at home is quite simple! Simple stew rhubarb slices in red wine vinegar with a few whole cloves and let it sit to engage all the flavors. Strain into a clean glass jug and enjoy for many weeks to come. I like to leave a little “rhubarb puree” in the vinegar – just press a little on the rhubarb pulp when straining. Talk about a pop of color – it’s quite a beautiful presentation of a ruby tone. While it is assertively on the sour side, it pairs nicely in a butter sauce (beurre blanc) and teams well with the sweetness of mellow day boat scallops.
Other Spring “sides” here are Mashed Jerusalem Artichokes and Charred Asparagus. Jerusalem artichokes have no relation to artichokes, yet have an overwhelming artichoke flavor.. I’m in love! They are actually the edible roots (tubers) of a special North American sunflower plant. Frieda’s Inc. first distributed them in the 1960’s and created a desire for this flavorful and versatile vegetable. Pairing with the seared scallops, I have simply steamed them, and mashed with a little butter and sprinkled with some Himalayan Sea Salt. Simply delicious and nutritious. They taste and have a similar texture to water chestnuts. Select these tubers that are firm – and the larger ones are easiest to peel. I have garnished the finished dish with jerusalem artichoke “crisps.” These are as wonderfully addictive as home made potato chips with it’s own distinctive flavor. Simply slice them thinly, or use a mandoline slicer for a perfect even slice, and fry in a bit of oil.
For a little play on flavors, whole cloves add a sweet and aromatic balance to the tang of the rhubarb – and are added to the Rhubarb Vinegar. A pinch of fresh ground cloves are added to the Rhubarb Butter Sauce and use some to sprinkle over the finished dish. I grind all of my whole spices in my kitchen with a handy spice grinder.
Enjoy the fresh flavors of Spring,