Whilst we usually experience rhubarb as a dessert in delicious sweet dishes with lashings of fresh custard (yum!) it is of course in truth a vegetable and I have wanted to try using rhubarb in a savoury dish for some time.
Forced rhubarb (rhubarb grown in the dark under an upturned bucket or special forcing pot) is ready for harvesting from the garden now and is also available from local growers. This is the early type of rhubarb which is available between January and March. Forcing rhubarb gives it a distinctive appearance of acid yellow-green leaves and pinkish delicate elongated stems. This rhubarb is more tender, sweeter and more gently aromatic than the later varieties left to mature in full sunlight, it therefore has less requirement for sugar to quell that distinctive sharpness.
This recipe has been inspired by the fabulous Green Kitchen Stories from their bookThe Green Kitchen but with more of a leaning towards traditional Jamaican spice notes. I do, however, love the idea of apple in this recipe bringing a sweetness and freshness in line with the sweeter spices and honey included.
There are some fantastic unusual recipe ideas for forced rhubarb so a good hunt around the net may give lots of ideas for your yields. I love the rhubarb and rosewater compote by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall which I think would be wonderful. The fragrant rosewater picking up on the floral sweetness of the forced rhubarb.
Rhubarb, Plantain & Split-Pea Soup
- 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 tbsp pimento
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp cardamom seeds (grounded)
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 1 stick celery (diced)
- 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1/4 Scotch Bonnet pepper (finely chopped)
- 2 in piece of fresh ginger (grated)
- 1 cup yellow or orange split peas (rinsed)
- 2 lb pumpkin or sweet potato (cubed)
- 1 large plantain (sliced into 4 large parts)
- 3 sticks rhubarb (diced)
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- Spring of fresh thyme
Heat coconut oil in large heavy-based pan. Add spices (except pimento and black pepper) and stir until seasonings become fragrant. Add celery, onion, hot pepper, garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes until softened.
Add pumpkin and/or sweet potato, rhubarb and plantain. Stir in with spices and seasonings coating the vegetables. Add split peas and 4 cups of water. Add salt, pimento and black pepper. Turn on a low heat and let it simmer for 40 mins or until peas are soft. Taste and add further salt if required.
If you like the seasoning flavours in this soup, why not try traditional Jamaican Saturday Soup.