“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”
– Brian O’Driscoll
I think you can consider a rhubarb as a vegetable in the same way that a tomato is a fruit. Rhubarb is completely alien to me. I recognise the word, but I I can’t say I have eaten rhubarb before. If I have, I mustn’t have been paying attention or maybe it was cooked with fruit and I wasn’t sure where the fruit ended and the rhubarb began.
I was determined to do something with rhubarb this summer, and to know for sure what it was (and if I liked it). It’s a bit embarrassing that I wasn’t sure what rhubarb looked like. I couldn’t identify it in the wild, although I’m generally pretty good at identifying edibles in the ground. I thought maybe it looked like silverbeet or celery only bright red. I was on the right track. I even claimed that I’d never seen rhubarb in any shops. Surely if I had, I would know. Turns out I just didn’t recognise it. Because the next time I went to the shop and actually looked, there it was, next to a hand written piece of paper proclaiming: Rhubard $1.49. At least I think rhubard is supposed to be rhubarb, though I kind of like rhubard. Rhubard is the poet of the fruit and vege world. He writes sonnets about how vegetables consider him too wild and how fruits consider him too square.
I didn’t want to go completely intrepid on this stuff so after I bought a couple of bundles, I looked online to find an easy recipe that might make the rhubarb shine. I stumbled upon Kitchen Confidante’s Rhubarb Hand Pies recipe. It was very simple and I could see that I could make it even more simple by subbing the pate sucre with the 2 sheets of puff pastry I still had waiting in the freezer. I used the recipe as a guide and it turned out pretty well. Actually, it turned out divine.
So here’s my version of events.
I still hadn’t used the lemon sugar that I made for a Sweet NZ event last year. If you don’t have lemon sugar, you can make some quite easily, or use raw sugar. Any leftover rhubarb mixture would go great with ice cream or porridge.
Rhubard Hand Pies
(sonnet to the vegetafruit)
Makes 4 hand pies
4-5 sticks of rhubarb
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 sheets of puff pastry
2 tablespoons lemon sugar or raw sugar
- Wash and then cut rhubarb into 1cm thick pieces.
- Combine with sugar and constarch in a saucepan and cook on the stove on medium heat. Stir well and keep cooking for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until all the sugar and cornstarch has dissolved, the rhubarb is starting to break down and the sauce is pink and think. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and cool in the freezer if you’re in a hurry or the fridge if you’re not.
- In the meantime, turn on the oven to 180°C.
- Defrost 2 sheets of puff pastry. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over each sheet and press the sugar into the pastry by running a rolling pin across the surface.
- Cut the each sheet into square quarters.
- Line a cookie/baking sheet with baking paper and lay down 4 of the squares sugar side facing down.
- Remove the rhubarb from the fridge and spoon 2 heaped tablespoons into the centre of each square. Take care leave behind as much liquid as possible.
- With the sugar side facing up, carefully lay a second piece of pastry on top of each pie and seal all the edges with the tines of fork. Poke a couple of vent holes into the pastry.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the hand pies are golden brown and smell like heaven.
- Cool on a rack before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.