Dal with Rhubarb


By Alaina Sullivan

Rhubarb, with its stringy stalk and rouge skin, is often paired with fruits, though it is actually a vegetable. Its tart flavor is typically tempered by sugar (think pie, compotes, etc.), but here it is incorporated into a savory dish that preserves its natural zing.

The rhubarb stalks join a pot of red lentils (prepared as a traditional Indian dal with ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, and dried chile for heat). As the dish simmers, the rhubarb practically dissolves, leaving behind molten flesh and its tangy trademark flavor. The dal is delicious sprinkled with fresh cilantro and served over rice or another grain, or spread on toasted pita. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Simplest Dal

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes, largely unattended

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

2 cloves

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 dried ancho or other mild dried chile (optional)


2 tablespoons cold butter or peanut oil (optional)

chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt, butter or oil, and cilantro in a saucepan, add water to cover by about 1 inch, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and keep cooking to the desired tenderness. The lentils should be saucy but not soupy.

2. Remove the cloves and, if you like, the cardamom pods (they’re kind of fun to eat, though). Stir in the butter or oil if you’re using it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with cilantro and serve.

Dal with Rhubarb. The rhubarb almost dissolves into this, leaving behind its trademark flavor: To the pot along with the other ingredients, add 3 or 4 stalks rhubarb, strings removed and chopped.

Posted in Indian, Recipes

Tribute to a Working Woman


By Clotilde Hryshko

Jim’s grandmother, Earline, recently passed away. This is said not to elicit a reaction but to explain my current thoughts and possible obsessions.

Simply put, she worked. She was a college educated woman who became a mill worker. She and her husband enjoyed gardening. They subscribed to Organic Gardening, planted an apple orchard and a blueberry patch. They earned extra income tending a market garden and selling the produce to The Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont. All this before these activities were fashionable or part of a marketing campaign.  Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Rhubarb Goes Out with a Jam


By Cathy Erway

Rhubarb came and went, flooding the farmers’ markets and our food media (including this great savory application) for a few weeks of spring – like a sudden bout of hayfever, only more welcome. Then, it was gone, while new arrivals like strawberries took the spotlight. I had no reason to think that I’d see rhubarb again before next year, until an overnight package from an exceedingly generous acquaintance with a home garden in Massachusetts arrived at my door: Rhubarb: five or six pounds of the juicy, pinkish green stalks.

Such an overload for a one-person dwelling requires swift action. That weekend, I made an enormous pie, piled inches deep with rhubarb — just rhubarb, no room for strawberries here — and covered with a crust that bowed like a circus tent. That used up about a fourth of them. A week rushed by and I worried that the rest of them would get claimed by the compost, but a rainy day proved to be their salvation. Continue reading

Posted in Produce

Rhubarb: Beyond Pie


By Ben Kaufmann

[Ben Kaufmann is the first mb.com visitor to submit a post we’re running. He’s an architect, who says “I no longer follow recipes and seldom consult cookbooks. This is not a point of pride for me but rather an indication of my laziness.” I’ve been saying that, or at least the latter part, for years. But it’s an indication not only of laziness but of skill and creativity, as I believe he demonstrates here. Visit Ben’s blog at (http://gutblog.com). As for my recent adventures with rhubarb, check out today’s Minimalist column.]

I was standing in line the other day to buy some ramps. Yes, that’s correct, I was waiting in the hot sun to spend three dollars on 2 oz. of wild baby leeks. People have gone a little crazy for ramps here in New York and I felt compelled to join in the fun. I worried they would sell out when a bicycle (actually a large tricycle) from a local restaurant arrived and loaded up several crates of them. They skipped right past the line.

But as I was making my purchase, (“No, no. I don’t need a bag. I brought my own.”) I spotted some rhubarb. The folks in line behind me were already shoving their items toward the rampmonger. So I panicked and set some rhubarb on the scale. Like ramps, rhubarb must be had locally, and must be very fresh. They also herald the full arrival of the spring growing season. And I think there was a time when people were just as crazy about rhubarb. Some of us still are. Continue reading

Posted in Produce, Recipes