When I look at rhubarb, it reminds me of some sort of alien plant. It’s not really appealing, and yet it is so coveted for spring cooking. I will admit: it does some wonderful things when cooked despite its unusual appearance.
Others may say that this simple vegetable has genius qualities and a beautiful color. Which is does of course. On its own it can be bitter, but when paired with fruit, especially springtime strawberries, it balances perfectly in many combinations.
Since rhubarb has been in abundance at my local farmer’s market, and because I love trying new things, I decided it was high time I conquered my apprehension around rhubarb. Also my husband loves it, so it’s an easy way to shut him up for a bit.
Shavuot…rhubarb abundance…it was clear a strawberry rhubarb topped cheesecake was only natural for this time of year.
Some of my other favorite strawberry rhubarb recipes to highlight?
Strawberry Rhubarb Blintzes from Leah Koenig
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream from Naomi Sugar
Rhubarb Rugelach from Tamar Fox
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For the topping:
2 cups rhubarb, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp orange juice
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp cornstarch
For the crust:
10 whole graham crackers
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
For the filling:
3 8 ounce packages of full fat cream cheese
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse graham crackers, sugar, salt and melted butter until crumbs form.
Press crumbs into bottom of springform pan. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allows to cool completely.
In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Mix in eggs.
Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared graham cracker crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until middle is just set but jiggles slightly. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
To make the topping, place rhubarb, strawberries and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 7-10 minutes, until the strawberries and rhubarb start breaking down. Combine corn starch and water and add to rhubarb-strawberry mixture. Continue cooking another 5-7 minutes until mixture is thick and strawberries and rhubarb are completely broken down and soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
After the cheesecake and topping have both cooled, spoon strawberry-rhubarb mixture on top of cheesecake. Serve chilled.
I grew up eating lots of very traditional Italian-American lasagna, baked ziti and anything else you could cover in homemade tomato sauce and cheese. And I loved it – I mean who doesn’t!? Garfield the cat was even one of my heroes growing up. I always appreciated his feisty-ness towards his sibling (Odie), his appreciation of napping and of course his love of lasagna.
In the past few years I have yearned for lasagnas with a little more flair, and a little less sauce. I have made a white pumpkin lasagna, and a white lasagna with spinach and pine nuts. I have included a béchamel, and left it out. I have even experimented with different kinds of cheeses.
As the greens of spring have taken over at my local farmer’s market, a lasagna recipe was once again creeping into my head. Peas, fresh herbs…something was simmering.
When I suggested a puree of spring peas with herbs basked into a creamy lasagna, my husband was less than enthusiastic. He responded to the idea saying, “Um..ok. I guess let’s see how it turns out.”
I love it when my husband has to admit he was wrong, and in the case of this lasagna, he had to concede defeat as he shoveled another bite into his mouth. And though I actually hate peas, this lasagna is absolutely out of this world, creamy and full of fresh spring flavors. It’s also perfect for a Shavuot celebration. Pair with a crisp glass of white wine and a simple mixed green salad and you have a complete meal especially appropriate for a June lunch.
I actually ended up making this recipe two ways. Once with regular, store-bough lasagna noodles which was delicious. And a second version with homemade spinach noodles. You can try either – they were both creamy, lighter than you might think and really yummy. It really depends on the amount of work you want to put in. Making your own noodles is delicious, but much more time consuming.
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8 ounces whole milk ricotta
8 ounces mascarpone cheese (or another 8 ounces of ricotta)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp fresh mint
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
12-15 lasagna noodles or homemade spinach noodles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Boil a large pot of salted water. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pot as the water is coming to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles as directed, around 7-8 minutes. Drain water and layer noodles on a baking sheet drizzled with a smidge of olive oil to prevent sticking. You can also put sheets of parchment paper in between noodles.
In a food processor fitted with blade attachment, pulse peas, herbs and melted butter until desired smoothness.
In a large bowl mix together ricotta, mascarpone, all but 1 cup of the grated mozzarella, parmesan, fresh herbs, egg and the pea mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix until just combined.
Drizzle bottom of a 9X13 baking with olive oil. Layer lasagna noodles so that they overlap just slightly on top of one another. The bottom layer should be 4 noodles. Layer about a third of the cheese-pea mixture on top and smooth using a spatula or back of a spoon.
Repeat with three layers. On top of the third layer of noodles, add the remaining grated mozzarella, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and another drizzle of olive oil.
Cover with tin foil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes covered. Remove foil. Bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and slightly bubbly. Allow to cool before cutting.
One of the best things about spring–radishes. It’s like all they want to do is pop out of the ground and jump onto our plates in all of their pink and purple glory. While it’s easy and delicious to eat them raw–crunching into them or tossing them into a salad–cooking radishes is a delectable and under-appreciated treatment.
1 bunch radishes, cut in halves or wedges
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of salt
Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and melt it, letting it brown for a couple of seconds.
Add the radish wedges and cover for about 5 minutes.
Season to taste.
Whether eating seasonally is important to you or it’s just something you read about on food blogs, I bet you’ve been paying attention to at least one thing as spring makes way for summer: rhubarb season. Rhubarb is one of the few produce items that is nearly impossible to get out of season. But good news–the time is here and the rhubarb is ready for all of your creativity.
To get the creative/rhubarb juices flowing, here are a few tantalizing recipes to try:
Are you the type of person who likes to come home and treat yourself to a trendy cocktail? If that’s your thing, try making your own Rhubarb Bitters for your next drink.
Although it’s often relegated to the dessert course, rhubarb can wear other hats, too, like in this Chicken with Rhubarb and Fennel from the Wall Street Journal. The rich, flavorful thighs provide a good balance to the tangy rhubarb.
For vegetarians looking to add some pop to their entrees, try this Curried Lentil with Rhubarb Chutney. This dish is impressive for a host of reasons, but mostly because, unlike typical chutney, this rhubarb condiment is only sweetened with chopped dates. As the recipe’s author points out–don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients. You probably already have many of the ingredients.
As a follow-up to these exoctic spice combinations, take a tip from the Brittish and treat yourself to Rhubarb Fool with Cardamon Cream. The man behind Lottie and Doof has a serious soft spot for rhubarb, so if you aren’t feeling fool-ish (pun definitely intended), check out his archives.
Finally, check out La Domestique’s “10 Ways Tuesday” for ten very different ways to use your rhubarb this season. (Consider substituting some more of those chicken thighs and drumsticks for the crispy pork dish.)