7 things to do with the rhubarb growing in your yard

Rhubarb is starting to break ground across the city. If you anticipate a bountiful harvest of the tart red stalks this year, here are a few things to do with all of it, beyond pie. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Have some rhubarb growing in your yard? The Calgary Eyeopener's Julie Van Rosendaal has seven ideas for you. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Rhubarb is starting to break ground across the city.  

If you anticipate a bountiful harvest of the tart red stalks this year, here are a few things to do with all of it, beyond pie — not that there’s anything wrong with pie.

1. Strawberry-rhubarb milkshakes

For the ultimate summer treat, chop three to four large stalks and two cups strawberries and bring to a simmer with a half of a cup of sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the fruit is soft and the mixture jamlike. Set aside to cool completely.

To make milkshakes, blend one part rhubarb mixture to two parts ice cream in a blender with enough milk to make it so it can fit through a straw. Serve immediately.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

2. Chutney

Mangoes don’t have the monopoly on chutney. Tangy rhubarb is perfect for simmering with sugar, vinegar and spices to make a perfect condiment for curries or roasted meats. It's worth trying some on your next grilled cheese.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

3. Barbecue sauce

Rhubarb, simmered until soft with water, thickens barbecue sauce while adding a distinctive tang. A jar will keep for weeks in your fridge.

Use it to brush over grilled meats, add to baked beans or top a burger.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

  • Two large stalks of rhubarb, chopped (about two cups).
  • Three quarters of a cup of water.
  • One onion, finely chopped.
  • Two to three garlic cloves, crushed.
  • One cup of ketchup.
  • One half of a cup of pure maple or golden syrup.
  • One half of a cup of packed brown sugar.
  • One quarter of a cup of apple cider or rice vinegar.
  • One tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
  • One tablespoon grainy mustard.

In a small saucepan, bring rhubarb and water to a simmer and cook for five to six minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In the same saucepan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion for three to four minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture thickens.

Puree with a hand-held immersion blender or cool and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Use as you would any barbecue sauce on grilled meats, in baked beans or drizzled on burgers. Makes about two cups.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

4. Creamsicles

Who doesn’t love a summer creamsicle? Simmer chopped rhubarb with water or juice until soft, then puree with cream or thick plain yogurt, sweetened to taste. Freeze in ice pop moulds until firm, then serve.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

5. Vinaigrette

Simmered rhubarb blends perfectly into a tart vinaigrette, making it brilliant pink and thickening it slightly in the process. It may become your go to summer salad dressing.

Rhubarb Vinaigrette

Adapted from

  • One rhubarb stalk, thinly sliced.
  • Two tablespoons of honey.
  • Two tablespoons of rice vinegar (red wine or raspberry vinegar would work well, too).
  • Two teaspoons of grainy Dijon mustard (or to taste).
  • One quarter of a cup of canola or mild olive oil.

In a small saucepan, simmer the rhubarb with one quarter to half a cup of water for five minutes, or until very soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. It also works well warm.

Put the rhubarb into a blender with the honey, vinegar and mustard. Pulse until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil. Makes about a cup.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

6. Mini strawberry-rhubarb tarts

There's no need to commit to an entire pie, just pick up a pack of frozen puff pastry and you’re halfway there.

Little Strawberry Rhubarb Pies

  • One package of frozen puff pastry, thawed .
  • Three cups chopped rhubarb.
  • Two cups hulled, sliced or chopped strawberries.
  • One cup sugar (or to taste).
  • One tablespoon of cornstarch.
  • One egg, beaten (optional).
  • Sugar or coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional).

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry dough out one quarter of an inch thick. Cut into rounds whatever size you like using a cookie cutter or glass rim. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb and strawberries. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Add to the strawberry-rhubarb mixture and toss to coat well.

Spread some of the mixture over each pastry circle, leaving about an inch around the edges. Fold them over the filling, wherever they naturally fold. If you like, brush the edges with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400 F, or until golden and the fruit is tender. Makes four to eight pies.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

7. Lemon bars

Chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb is great in baking, mimicking fresh cranberries. If you like things tart, chances are you like lemon bars.

Try scattering a handful of chopped rhubarb over the crust before pouring the filling overtop next time you make a batch.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)