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Rhubarb: vegetable that makes a great dessert




If you are lucky, you have some growing in your garden. In June, the plant it at its peak.

First known references to the rhubarb are Chinese, dated about 2700 B.C. But it probably originated in Siberia. The word rhubarb comes from the Latin rhabarbum, “near the river [the Volga] of the Barbarians”.

However its value was chiefly medicinal and not culinary; it was known to make excellent purgatives and laxatives.

In the late 1700s, it became appreciated for its fruit-like quality at times of year when most fruits were unavailable.

Rhubarb cooked as a sauce is a favourite. You can also make it into a custard pie, baked crumble or crisp, use in sweet-and-sour chutneys, simmer it in a sugar and ginger syrup to make compotes – or make it into wine.

It’s a good partner with other fruit, such as strawberries, in pies, tarts and preserves because it tends to take on the flavour of such fruits.


Caution: Avoid eating rhubarb leaves. They contain oxalic acid which irritates the inside of the mouth and, in some cases, can be fatal.


Available fresh until June, rhubarb is a special springtime treat. Enjoy it in season with these ideas:

Roast it: Drizzle diced stalks with maple syrup, then roast on a baking sheet until fork tender (about 5 minutes). Toss with greens, goat cheese and pecans for a delicious salad.

Stew it: Gently simmer rhubarb, sugar and water over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold over vanilla frozen yogurt, pound cake or mini pavlovas for a light dessert.

Bake it: There’s nothing like a slice of sweet and tangy strawberry rhubarb pie for a special dessert. Rhubarb and strawberries are also a winning combination


Rhubarb Streusel Cake

Streusel meaning “something scattered or sprinkled,” this easy cake is loaded with tart, tangy rhubarb and sprinkled with a crumbly sugar and cinnamon mixture – the perfect picnic or party cake. Using quark, a German fresh cheese, gives the cake a delicious density.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 12


  • 2-1/4 cups (550 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) quark or Ontario Sour Cream*
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
  • 2 Ontario Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-1/4 cups (550 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 4 cups (1 L) coarsely chopped Ontario Rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon


  • 35% Ontario Whipped Cream


Preparation Instructions:

Grease 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) glass baking dish.

In large bowl, with wooden spoon, beat together 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) of the sugar, quark, water and eggs until smooth. Stir in 2 cups (500 mL) of the flour, baking soda and salt until smooth. Fold in 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) of the rhubarb. Pour batter into prepared dish; spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining rhubarb over batter.

In small bowl, with wooden spoon, beat the remaining sugar with butter until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over top of the cake; dust with cinnamon. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes or until golden and tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

*Note: Substitute sour cream for the quark and reduce water to 1/4 cup (50 mL).


Nutritional Information:

1 Serving

  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 59 grams
  • Calories: 325
  • Fibre: 1 gram
  • Sodium: 256 mg


Source: Foodland Ontario

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