Rhubarb has been a constant source of wonder for me ever since I was a child. I was born in Berkeley, CA, and I remember my parents had huge rhubarb stalks that grew up behind the house. I asked about them a lot – what they were, what they tasted like, how you cooked them.
My boyfriend and I are in the process of moving into my parents house, renting out their in-law apartment. Moving is exhausting, and both of us are working out of several split up home offices. Today was hectic, and midday I felt like my head was going to burst.
And then I remembered the rhubarb.
Part of the reason I started this blog was because I wanted an excuse to cook with good food all the time. I know I shouldn’t need an excuse, but I do. I have a small budget and before the blog there was a certain guilt that came with going out and buying copious amounts of food at the farmers market. I have started to feel a shift in that way of thinking. Granted, I spend a lot less money on other aspects of my life – I haven’t bought new clothes in I don’t know how long. I haven’t gone out to the movies in even longer. I’m acting as my own little pep squad, constantly reminding myself – this is worth it!
Cooking is my kind of yoga, my own personal meditation. It’s days like this that I really value the blog as an outlet.
If you haven’t realized yet, you soon will see how deep into rhubarb season we are quickly becoming. I felt like almost every stand at the Saturday Farmers Market in Portsmouth had a big pile of rhubarb. Not everyone sold out, which was a first for this season.
I bought my rhubarb from Maddie and Tim of Live Free Farm. They’re stalks are skinny and lithe, which I personally find convenient. Others might want some heartier rhubarb, but I’m not terribly concerned with that sort of thing.
I decided to thaw out some delicious looking pork chops I got at the first market from New Roots Farm. I always like my chops paired with something sweet and tangy, and apples are way out of season, so rhubarb was an obvious first choice. I’ve had a quart of strawberries sitting in my freezer from last summer when our neighbor Ed brought them by from the UNH Organic Garden as a gift. Sweet and tangy.
Stout Oak Farm had little baby kale this last week, and I love shredded kale with tart dressing. Rhubarb Lemon Kale Salad sounded good to me.
I’m only getting warmed up as far as rhubarb is concerned!
Pork Chops and Kale Salad with Rhubarb Two Ways
(serves 4 with leftover sauce)
- 4 Pork Chops
- 6 small stalks of Rhubarb
- 1 Qt frozen Strawberries
- 3 Generous Sprigs of Mint (I used Pineapple Mint from my New Roots Farm seedlings)
- 4 Juniper Berries (optional)
- 1/2 C Brown Sugar (I like the organic florida crystals kind myself. You could substitute honey but I found that it was completely drowned out by the rhubarb and the white wine vinegar)
- White Wine Vinegar or White Wine (Use just a splash of the vinegar, more if you’re using real wine.)
Rhubarb Dressing and Kale Green Salad
- 4 skinny stalks of Rhubarb
- 1/2 C Water
- 1/2 C Brown Sugar
- 2 Fresh Lemon
- 1/4 C Sunflower Oil
- 1/2 lb Kale
- Chop up the rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces. Coarsely chop the mint and put all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Fill water so that it is almost covering the fruit. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Bring the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 30 minutes, or until thick and the fruit has become soft. Taste as you go, adding sugar or white wine as desired.
- Pour the mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth and then put aside in a serving bowl.
- Cook the chops as desired. I like to sear them on both sides in a cast iron pan, and then bring the temp down, cooking for another twenty – thirty minutes until there’s a tangible resistance when I push my knuckles down against the meat.
Rhubarb Dressing and Kale Green Salad
- Clean out the saucepan from before, and put in the rhubarb, water and sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Bring down the temperature and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Pull off of the heat. Strain the rhubarb so it’s a nice clear and very pink simple syrup.
- Squeeze the lemon into the syrup. Pour into a food processor.
- Turn the food processor on low and slowly pour in the sunflower oil so that it makes a nice, well mixed dressing. If you’d prefer a salad more tart than sweet, feel free to add another lemon. Set aside.
- Chop up the kale into fine strips. This can be easily done by holding the kale in small bunches with one hand. Don’t do too much at a time, or you may have trouble getting the strips as fine as you’d like.
- Dress the kale salad to your desire.
Serve the rhubarb compote over the pork chops with the side salad, and enjoy! I think you’ll find you probably have extra compote, but I think it would taste good on brisket or ribs as well.