Study: RHUBARB. 2.5 Rhubarb stealing strawberry’s partners.
Strawberry is a promiscuous flavor. Strawberry-banana, strawberry-basil, strawberries and cream, strawberry and lime, strawberry and balsamic . . .
And of course, strawberry and rhubarb. But while strawberry gets around with everything from banana to coriander, rhubarb seems to only ever be paired with strawberry. Forty-three percent of the 92 recipes with rhubarb on the Food Network website also have strawberry. Though last Sunday was Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day, few (except Minnesotans) mark their calendars with a special day just for rhubarb alone.
It’s time for rhubarb to couple for the night (or at least for a salad) with a few of strawberry’s partners. This salad pairs rhubarb with flavors traditionally accompanying strawberry, like basil and cream. Strawberry can join too, so long as it recognizes its new place.
Raw rhubarb would be far too stringy and acidic to use in this way. It should be processed in a way to retains the rhubarbs snap and brightness. The key is a quick maceration in sugar and a short roast.Sugar loves water. When water-rich rhubarb is cloaked in sugar, the hydrophilic sucrose molecules suction the water from the rhubarb stalk, bursting cells and tearing strings along the way. Overdo it, and the result is a messy compote. Macerating for a hew minutes will let rhubarb keep its crispness for a salad. Quickly roasting the rhubarb — again don’t overdo it — helps further break down the cellulose fibers, while offering a little hint of caramelized sugar.
Rhubarb: Trim rhubarb leaves and base. Pack 3 -4 stalks in a plastic bag with 1 – 2 tbsp. granulated sugar per stalk. Allow rhubarb to chill for about 30 min. Remove rhubarb and dust of excess sugar, leaving a very light coating. Roast rhubarb in baking pan at 350 for about 8 min. Rhubarb should still be firm. Allow rhubarb to cool. Slice rhubarb into 2-3 inch segments.
Strawberry: Husk 6-8 strawberries. With a mandolin or really good knife work (wear protective gear), slice strawberry to about one quarter-inch thickness. This will be more difficult with very ripe strawberries.
Toss mixed greens and basil leaves with balsamic and olive oil. Top with rhubarb. strawberry, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle very lightly with cream.
Mixed greens.(Arugula probably tastes best; chard looks good)