Simple Rhubarb Recipes

When my parents bought this house ten years ago it came with a gigantic rhubarb plant in the backyard. We didn’t even know what this obnoxious plant was until my grandma came over one day and absolutely freaked out, taking half of the plant home with her. Even after that, no one in my house actually cared about that rhubarb plant. Honestly, it just sounded kinda gross to me (rhubarb is basically a red celery) because I generally don’t like healthy food. With the exception of my grandma, the plant had remained untouched for the last ten years until a couple days ago when I decided it was time to try something with it.

My fiancé and I had Saturday off together (for the first time in what seems like forever) and he was like, “Hey, let’s try cooking with that rhubarb. It probably feels neglected and lonely.” So we did. I got up early in the morning and harvested some rhubarb (“harvesting” makes me feel like a farm girl from all those country songs).

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Photo courtesy of Jeremy Keith

The two recipes we made are Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars and Rhubarb Margaritas, but the first step to both of these recipes is to make a Rhubarb simple syrup.

Recipe #1: Rhubarb Simple Syrup

  • 4 cups of chopped rhubarb **VERY IMPORTANT: only use the stalks of the rhubarb because the leaves are toxic!**
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 cups of water

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a saucepan and heat on stovetop of medium heat until it starts to make little bubbles. Lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes and stir occasionally. By the end the rhubarb will start to get squishy, melty, and gelatinous.

There is an easy way and hard way to do the next step. The easy way requires a juicer. Simply pour the mixture into your juicer so that the pulp and syrup separate. The hard way just involves a few extra steps. Set a fine strainer over a large bowl and pour the rhubarb mixture into the strainer until the pulp and syrup separate. Press against the leftover pulp with the back of spoon to extract more syrup.

Whichever way you do that last step, you should end up with with two separate things: syrup and pulp. Put the syrup in your refrigerator– you’ll use that later for the margaritas. If you did it the easy way, you have your pulp and you’re done. If you did it the hard way, you just have to put the pulp through a food processor or blender to make it finer. You’ll use the pulp for the oatmeal bars.

Recipe #2: Oatmeal Rhubarb Bars

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  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb purée (left over from the simple syrup)

Mix together all of the ingredients (except for the rhubarb) in a medium sized bowl. Press half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13″ pan. Pour the rhubarb in next and spread evenly over the oats. Then, sprinkle the rest of the oatmeal mixture evenly on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, and let cool before serving. Depending on how you cut them, they should serve 15-23 people (or just yourself if you don’t feel like sharing).

Pro tip: eat them warm with vanilla ice cream on top for maximum pleasure.

Recipe #3: Rhubarb Margaritas

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  • 1 cup rhubarb simple syrup
  • 1/3 cup tequila (or not if you’re under 21, kiddos)
  • 2 tablespoons triple sec (orange liqueur. again, not if you’re under 21).
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish

Combine ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with the lime (squeeze some of the lime juice into the margarita for extra flavor). This should make 3-4 margaritas, depending on how large or small you like them. This recipe makes for a very good summertime drink.

Confession: When I went to buy the ingredients for the margaritas it was my first time ever in a liquor store. There were WAY too many options, so my confused newbie self just bought the cheap stuff. And I totally freaked out like a nerd when the guy didn’t even ID me. I’ve always wanted to try straight tequila ala Grey’s Anatomy, so I had a shot when I got home. Let’s just say I won’t be turning into a drunken Meredith Grey anytime soon. But on the bright side it tasted good mixed into the margarita.

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