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We've successfully reached the time of year when we mark its passage not just by the calendar, but by the growing season. Now, it's rhubarb time.

Memories of rhubarb are threaded through the lives of many Minnesotans, from dipping ruby-red stalks in sugar before taking a bite to hoping that dessert at Grandma's would be her famous rhubarb custard pie. As cooks, we've baked muffins, crisps, pies and meringues, and dabbled in margaritas and mojitos. We embrace rhubarb's savory side, too, using chutneys, relishes and pickling to perk up proteins.

We're also looking to raise our rhubarb game, and this trio of recipes does that. Roasting rhubarb brings out its softer and sweeter side before deploying it into a brown-butter tart. Rhubarb and cardamom team up to give rice pudding springtime sass. And giving it a quick pickle as the base for a relish makes it a tart foil for a weighty fish like salmon.

Whether you're cooking up new recipes or falling back on the tried-and-true, when it comes to rhubarb, there is no wrong answer.

Rhubarb and Brown Butter Tart from Sarah Johnson's "Fruitful" roasts the rhubarb first.
Rhubarb and Brown Butter Tart from Sarah Johnson's "Fruitful" roasts the rhubarb first.

Patricia Niven, Provided

Rhubarb and Brown Butter Tart

Serves 10 to 12.

Making this tart involves several components, but many can be prepped ahead of time. A portion of the rhubarb is cooked and strained the day before. The extracted liquid is then reduced to a luscious glaze. Note: Use your favorite recipe for flaky pie crust (or your favorite store-bought version). To brown butter, add butter to a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Continuously swirl or stir butter as it melts. It will get foamy before it starts to turn a golden brown. Remove from heat when butter is brown and smells nutty. From "Fruitful" by Sarah Johnson, (Kyle Books, 2024).

• 1 (10 1/4-in.) tart tin, lined flaky pie crust and chilled (see Note)

• Roasted Rhubarb (see recipe below)

• 1 tsp. cornstarch

For the filling:

• 2 1/2 tbsp. (20 g) all-purpose flour

• 3 1/2 tbsp. (20 g) almond flour

• 3 1/4 tbsp. (40 g) superfine sugar

• 1 egg

• 4 tsp. whole milk

• 5 tsp. (25 g) brown butter (see Note)

For the topping:

• 14 oz. (400 g) rhubarb

• 1/4 c. (55 g) superfine sugar

For serving:

• Vanilla ice cream, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Keep the crust-lined tart pan chilled until you are ready to assemble and bake the tart. Place a colander over a bowl and transfer the roasted rhubarb to drain. Use a spatula to scrape the juices from the pan (avoid any bits that may have burned), then set aside, reserving the juices.

To make the filling: Whisk the flour into a bowl and add the almond flour and sugar, whisking to combine. Whisk in the egg and milk. Slowly whisk in brown butter. Set aside to cool completely. This can be done up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Slice the raw rhubarb into quarters, then slice the stalks into long strips about the thickness of your index finger. Place into a bowl and toss with the sugar.

When you are ready to assemble the tart, remove the pastry-lined tin from the freezer. Spread the brown butter filling across the bottom of the tart, followed by the strained roasted rhubarb (reserving the liquid for the glaze). Lay the raw rhubarb over the top of the filling and slide onto a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully rotate the tart. If the top looks like it is beginning to brown, loosely cover with baking parchment and continue cooking for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling begins to sink slightly.

While the tart is baking, make the rhubarb glaze. Place the reserved juices from the roasted rhubarb into a saucepan with the teaspoon of cornstarch. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch, then place over medium heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Transfer the tart from the oven onto a wire rack and brush with some of the glaze. Allow it to cool completely. This tart is best served several hours out of the oven to allow the filling to set and the rhubarb to reabsorb its juices. Glaze once more just before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Roasted Rhubarb

Serves 4 to 6.

Start this the day before. There's no need to add water — all the liquid required is naturally stored within the stalks. By macerating the stalks in sugar, we draw out the natural juices and soften the fibers. From "Fruitful" by Sarah Johnson.

• 1 lb. rhubarb, trimmed

• 1 1/4 c. (225 g) superfine sugar

• 1/2 vanilla bean, split

• 1 tbsp. cornstarch

• Zest and juice of 1/2 orange, optional


Rinse rhubarb under cold water and pat dry. Slice stalks into sticks about the length and width of your index finger. Toss with 3/4 cup sugar, then place into a container and store in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove rhubarb from the refrigerator and lay the stalks in rows in a roasting pan large enough for them to sit snugly. Take a spatula and scrape any residual sugar and juice over the rhubarb.

Put the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sugar. Use the tips of your fingers to distribute the vanilla, then add the cornstarch and whisk everything together. Scatter the sugar over the rhubarb and add zest and juice, if using. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender, but still holding its shape. Cool on a rack to room temperature. Roasted rhubarb will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator in a well-sealed container.

Cardamom and rhubarb are a winning combination in rice pudding. From "House & Garden: A Year in the Kitchen," by Blanche Vaughan.
Cardamom and rhubarb are a winning combination in rice pudding. From "House & Garden: A Year in the Kitchen," by Blanche Vaughan.

Nassima Rothaker, Provided

Rice Pudding with Cardamom and Rhubarb

Serves 6.

Use either risotto or sushi rice to make rice pudding; their short grains produce the creamy, sticky texture that makes this so good. The rhubarb brings some beautiful bright pink color and a nice balance of acidity, but the key ingredient here is the cardamom, which gives it a whisper of fragrance. From "House & Garden: A Year in the Kitchen," by Blanche Vaughan (2023, Mitchell Beazley).

For the rice pudding:

• 2 1/2 c. whole milk

• 2 1/4 c. heavy cream

• 1/2 c. (100 g) superfine sugar

• 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

• 1 vanilla bean, split in half

• 1/2 c. (120 g) risotto or sushi rice

For the rhubarb:

• 1 lb. rhubarb, about 5 to 6 stalks

• 1/4 c. (50 g) superfine or light brown sugar

• 1 orange

• 1 (1 1/2-in.) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

To make the rice pudding, put the milk, cream, sugar and cardamom in a large saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk, along with the bean. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Choose a baking dish that is large enough to fit all the milk and cream with a bit of extra room so that it doesn't slosh over the sides when you put it in the oven. Scatter the rice over the bottom of the dish and carefully ladle in the milk mixture so that the rice remains evenly distributed.

Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, then check that the skin is not getting too brown. If it is, reduce the temperature to 275 degrees for the final 30 minutes of cooking.

Trim the rhubarb stalks, then cut into finger-length batons. Lay them in a single layer in a baking tray and sprinkle with the superfine or brown sugar.

Peel 4 lengths of zest from the orange. Add this to the rhubarb along with the orange juice. Grate the ginger over and toss the rhubarb so that it is well coated.

Bake for 20 minutes in the same oven as the rice pudding, preferably on the shelf below, until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy.

Remove the rhubarb from the oven and then allow it to cool a little before serving with the rice.

Slow-cooked Salmon with Pickled Rhubarb Relish, from "Fruitful" by Sarah Johnson.
Slow-cooked Salmon with Pickled Rhubarb Relish, from "Fruitful" by Sarah Johnson.

Patricia Niven, Provided

Slow-cooked Salmon with Pickled Rhubarb Relish

Serves 4.

This recipe embraces rhubarb's natural tartness and is best served with a weighty fish like salmon. Note: Use your favorite aioli recipe for serving — or go without. From "Fruitful" by Sarah Johnson, (Kyle Books, 2024).

• 2 1/4 lb. skin-on salmon, bones removed

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• Salt and pepper

• Aioli, for serving (see Note)

For the pickled rhubarb relish:

• 2 thin or 1 thick stalk rhubarb, rinsed and trimmed

• 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 7 tbsp. water

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 c. (50 g) sugar

• 1 bay leaf

• 2 tsp. coarse ground mustard

• 4 tbsp. olive oil

• 5 1/2 tbsp. (20 g) flat-leaf parsley leaves

• 6 tbsp. (20 g) fennel or dill


Dry and finely dice the rhubarb and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Combine the red wine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and bay leaf in a pan and place over a gentle heat. Bring the pickling liquid to just under a boil, then pour over the rhubarb and leave for 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mustard and olive oil. Finely chop the herbs and add to the oil. When the rhubarb is ready, strain away the poaching liquid and remove the bay leaf. Add the pickled rhubarb to the herby oil and gently fold the ingredients together, taking care not to bruise the herbs. Taste and adjust with more vinegar or salt if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a high-sided baking sheet with parchment and lay the salmon skin-side down. Drizzle the top of the salmon with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the edges begin to turn opaque and the thickest part of the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow the fish to rest for a few minutes.

To serve, cut the fish into portions and remove the skin. Spoon the rhubarb relish over the top and serve with aioli, if desired.