|Rosemary Rhubarb Yogurt Parfait(left); Tomato Jam & Cheddar on Archipelago bread (right)|
Tomato is a fruit and Rhubarb is a vegetable. !? This is what I pondered today while I was cooking them into preserves.
This always confused me a bit as kid. Tomato was most frequently experienced through tomato sauce over spaghetti, and tasted anything but fruity to me. Rhubarb, on the other hand, was piled deep into pie shells, combined with sugar and flour to make a thick delectable filling for Rhubarb pie or Strawberry-Rhubarb pie served up with ice cream, or else made into a jam. Nothing about Rhubarb made sense inside of my understanding of the vegetable world.
Not that this was something I spent a lot of time mulling over – typically I was happy to dig in to whatever great food was on offer.
Turns out that I wasn’t the only one who was confused – and New York courts didn’t help matters when it came to providing a clear answer: in 1947 it was ruled that Rhubarb, long considered a vegetable, was actually a fruit, because that was how it was used in the USA, cooked primarily into sweet dishes. The change in designation meant that lower duties and tariffs were paid on the import of rhubarb – a boon for consumers – as tariffs were lower on fruits than vegetables. This corresponded with my consumption of rhubarb – always in sweet dishes.
|Rhubarb’s red, pink & green stalks – tart & delicious|
But it turns out that New York got it wrong. Rhubarb, according to botanists, is indeed a vegetable after all, regardless of what it is cooked with. At the end of the day, when standing in the kitchen, it’s up to you how you want to cook it. Bring on the pie!
Recently, though, I’ve had rhubarb in an unexpected way: Stuffed into the belly of a whole pike fish (hauki) along with steamed nettles, chopped onion and salt and pepper. The brain child of Finnish chef Kenneth Oker-Blom, the stuffed fish is baked in the oven for 30 minutes and comes out moist and tender with a flavor reminiscent of saffron – a flavorful and elegant dish. If you make this – use a pike/hauki of no larger than 2kg for the best results. The recipe is published in his book 101 Haukireseptiä.
Today I had a pile of rhubarb stalks to use up and cooked it into very simple compote with the hint of rosemary lingering at the back of the palate. We’ll eat some now as dessert and freeze some for later. If you do this with the recipe below, here are some ways you can use it:
- Rosemary Rhubarb Yogurt parfait
- over ice cream
- in baked tartlette shells with a spoonful of whipped cream
- over oatmeal
- over pancakes, french toast or waffles
- along side a bowl of rice pudding
- Or go savory with this link from TheKitchn
|Tomato Basil Jam – look at the glorious color!|
- Tomato Jam & Mozzarella sandwiches on Ciabatta – grill them for a bonus melty effect
- Tomato Jam & Cheddar on Archipelago bread with fresh lettuce and basil leaves
- Savory crepes with goat cheese, tomato jam and rucola
- Served along side grilled or pan-fried fish – we used perch/ahven
- With scrambled eggs or an omelette
- With grilled chicken as a sauce
- Grilled chicken & tomato jam sandwich
|Tomato Jam & Cheddar on Archipelago bread with fresh lettuce and basil leaves|