Rhubarb is tart in the extreme, to the point of astringency. Chew on a chunk of raw rhubarb stalk and you might come away gasping. But cook rhubarb with sugar and that sourness balances the sweetness in a compelling way. At the same time, the plant's tough, fibrous texture melts into silkiness.
In fact, so fragile does rhubarb become that you should be very careful when cooking it to keep from tearing the stalks to shreds. Shake the pan, don't stir it.
Rhubarb can be scarce. This is partly because there's just not a lot of demand for it. After all, when you're knee-deep in spring citrus and strawberries, it might be hard for some folks to get excited about rhubarb. But we have a recipe that just might change some minds!
3/4 pound rhubarb (5 or 6 thin stalks), trimmed —
note: If your rhubarb stalks are more than an inch wide, slice them in half lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
10 ounces fresh strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cut the rhubarb into half-inch pieces. In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, bring the rhubarb, two-thirds cup water and the sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the rhubarb is tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Slice the strawberries and purée them in a blender or food processor with the cooked rhubarb mixture and lemon juice until smooth.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Servings: Makes 1 1/2 quarts
Total time: 20 minutes, plus freezing time
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.