This fleeting spring vegetable—yes, vegetable—needs sugar to soften its tangy flavor (hence, pies, preserves, and pairing it with strawberries). But that doesn’t mean it’s strictly for dessert. Limiting the sugar to a tablespoon or two makes rhubarb just right for topping a savory tart or a salad. Move fast: Rhubarb’s season is short and sweet (or not).
See red—or green
Look for firm, medium-size stalks. (Extra-fat ones can be stringy.) If you find green stalks, don’t be put off. This variety never develops a red color, but it tastes the same. Remove any brown or soft spots with a vegetable peeler, then wash the stalks well and trim the ends before using.
Make it last
Wrap unwashed stems in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or freeze chopped stalks on a sheet tray, then transfer to a heavy-duty plastic bag; freeze for up to 6 months.
Recipes by Julia Levy