Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: A rhubarb over tastes of early spring


By JANINE GILBERTSON | April 25. 2017 8:58PM

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble (JANINE GILBERTSON)








 
Spring is finally here and with it come early fresh greens and herbs like rhubarb and chives that you can work into recipes.

I was shopping at a green grocer the other day, the kind of store whose offerings are as local and seasonal as they can get, when I noticed a package of pea shoots from a farm in Concord. They looked as though they would make excellent salad material, so I grabbed some.

I also decided to try some shredded ginger carrots in the salad. They looked interesting and I was more intrigued when I read the label. The carrots were shredded and sold in a glass jar; the packaging information said they were preserved through fermentation.

The salad was simple yet delicious. I used the pea shoots in place of lettuce and I added some matchstick-cut seedless cucumbers. The ginger carrots are very flavorful and can be used as a garnish on top, then mixed in. My kids liked the cucumber yogurt dressing, mostly because they initially thought it was some kind of ranch.

No one could pass up the rhubarb crumble. On its own, rhubarb stalks are very tart and bitter, with a texture similar to celery. But bake the stalks with some sugar and fresh strawberries and you get a divine sweet and sour dish.

Another thing that’s especially fresh in the spring are chives. Chives can be used in numerous ways; they can be added to dressings, baked in biscuits, added to soups and stews and used as garnish.

I chopped up some fresh chives and mixed them into some whipped cream cheese, then used it as a filling in wonton wrappers. They make an easy appetizer, similar to crab rangoon but with a lighter filling.

Cream Cheese and Chive Wontons (Janine Gilbertson)

Cream Cheese and Chive Wontons

1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 (8 oz) containers whipped cream cheese

12 oz package of wonton wrappers

canola oil for frying

Add the cream cheese, salt, pepper and chives to a medium bowl and stir well to combine. 

Set the wonton wrappers on a waxed paper-lined work space and place a small bowl of water nearby. 

Place a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese in the center of each wrapper. Dip a finger in the water and moisten the outer edges of the wrapper, then fold the wrapper into a triangle. Press the edges to seal, adding more water to the edges as needed. 

Set on a tray or plate lined with waxed paper and repeat the process with the remaining wonton wrappers. 

To cook, add canola oil to an electric fryer following the manufacturer’s guidelines. When the oil is hot, add the wontons one at a time as space allows. Fry for about 3 minutes, turning wontons as needed to achieve a uniform golden brown color. Remove from fryer and set on a paper-towel-lined platter to drain.

Pea Shoots and Cucumber Salad with Ginger Carrots. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Spring Salad with Pea Shoots

4 oz container pea shoots

2 tbsp fermented ginger carrots

3/4 cup seedless cucumber, cut into matchsticks

2 tbsp cucumber yogurt dressing, such as Hidden Valley

Place the pea shoots and cucumber in a medium bowl and drizzle with yogurt dressing. Toss to combine, then garnish with the ginger carrots before serving.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Filling:

2 lbs fresh strawberries, chopped

3-4 stalks of fresh rhubarb, chopped

1 cup white sugar

3 tbsp flour

Topping:

1 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces (about 1/2 inch)

1½ cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granola
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the strawberries, rhubarb, white sugar and 3 tbsp flour to a large bowl and mix well. 

Spray a 9 x 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the strawberry-rhubarb mixture, spreading evenly. 

In a separate bowl, add the butter, 1½ cups flour and brown sugar. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, combine the ingredients to form a coarse meal. Add the granola and mix. 

Spread the mixture evenly over the strawberries and rhubarb and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the strawberries and rhubarb are softened and the filling begins to bubble.

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