I have been messing around with rhubarb all month, looking for ways to use it that don’t involve dessert. After quickly discovering the Rhubarb Balsamic Reduction and Maple Rhubarb Glaze, I found myself struggling to find success in my Don-Quixote-Meets-Iron-Chef quest for rhubarby goodness, without a load of sugar or crust involved.
That’s not to say I have anything against rhubarb, sugar, and a crust. As a matter of fact, I steamed a pound of rhubarb, cut into bite-size chunks, to freeze specifically for a Rhubarb Peach Cobbler by Alton Brown that makes me squeal and do a little dance the first time I taste it every year. I usually only make it once a year, and it is as close to fruit cobbler perfection as I’ve ever tasted. It starts with frozen rhubarb and frozen peaches, so I make the effort to freeze some local rhubarb while it’s in season. (The linked recipe is slightly different than the one in AB’s cookbook, but I’m sure it’s still amazing.) Seriously, this cobbler is the very essence of “Good Eats” (ok, © You-Know-Who). But I digress. You see, I actually ended up steaming two pounds of rhubarb, and it led me to my first success.
You see, I was steaming rhubarb, and sort of forgot I was steaming rhubarb, and well, it turned to rhubarb mush. So I tucked it into the fridge as future fodder for another experiment. Fast forward to Friday, where I found myself slow-roasting an eye-round roast for an online cooking course I’m taking, and of course a creamy horseradish sauce pops in my head, because I loves me a horseradish sauce with roast beef. Light Bulb.
What you see on the right side of the dish is Rhubarb Horseradish Sauce. It is rhubarb, prepared horseradish, some shallot, parsley, and a pinch or two of salt, blitzed in the food processor until creamy and mostly smooth. It is getting better with age (I just tasted it so I know). It has the piquant horseradish flavor, with a bit of tart earthiness from the rhubarb, and just the perfect brightness from the shallot and parsley.
So what’s on the left side of the dish? When deciding on what I would call this relish, I could’ve gone with clumsy but precise, or cornball and easy to remember. You know what I picked.
Say hello to Pickled Pink Relish. It is made with rhubarb, strawberries, and baby beets, a bit of garlic, and a sweet, salty, herby brine. I have mixed this into tuna salad, served it with roast beef, and topped a hot dog with it (yes, a hot dog, it’s summer, dude, lighten up). It worked well with all three. If you like sweet green pickle relish, try it.
Rhubarb Horseradish Sauce
This sauce is largely made to taste, but I’ll give you some guideline measurements.
2 C well-steamed (mushy) rhubarb
3 T prepared horseradish
1-2 tsp finely minced shallot
1 T finely minced parsley
salt to taste (sorry, you’re on your own here-go a pinch at a time until you like it)
Put all ingredients into the food processor and whiz until well-combined and mostly smooth. Refrigerate to develop flavors, but allow to come to room temp. before serving (just take out what you want, and leave the rest in the fridge).
I can’t wait to have this on a roast beef sandwich, on a crusty roll. (Note to self: Get crusty rolls.)
Pickled Pink Relish
1 C chopped rhubarb
1 C chopped strawberries
3/4 C chopped baby beets
(all veg chopped to a 1/4″ dice)
1 clove garlic, pressed or very finely minced
4 C water
1 C white vinegar
1/2 C sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 tsp. dill seed
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. anise seed
1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
Combine all brine ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. When it is boiling, remove from heat and allow spices to steep in brine while you chop up your veg.
Combine all chopped veg and garlic in a non-reactive bowl, strain the brine and pour over veg just to cover. Stir to combine, and transfer mixture to storage jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. Refrigerate unused brine. Remember to try pickling some other veg. I love the color of this relish, and the flavor is just the right combination of sweet/salty/acid/herbal. The vegetables retain just enough crunch to be satisfying, but don’t taste raw.
Now, this recipe is not tested for long-term storage, so I would say try to eat it up within two weeks. It’s pretty high acid, but you can’t be too careful. The brine should keep well for longer if you keep your refrigerator properly cold.
Gotta go-lots more fun to have in the kitchen. See you on the Road.