I find Rhubarb is such an overlooked and underappreciated spring vegetable. It's too bad because it lends itself to a variety of culinary uses. Most famously it is paired with strawberries in pie, jams, and crumbles, but it can also be a wonderful addition to seasonal drinks and cocktails. This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Jamie at Home, and is originally from the Acorn House restaurant in London. Jamie states in his book that this drink reflects the rhubarb season brilliantly, and I would have to agree.
It's a rather odd vegetable, the rhubarb, seeing as its leaves are toxic. Luckily someone tempted fate and figured out that their stalks are edible! Raw, they are extremely crisp and tart, but when cooked with sugar they become sweet and pleasant. It's fun to take advantage of seasonal "oddities" such as rhubarb, as it makes for special eating (and drinking) that can only come but once a year. The puree only takes a few minutes to make and can be done days in advance. This drink makes for a superb spring inspired drink at your upcoming cocktail party or brunch.
SIMPLE RHUBARB BELLINI
Recipe courtesy Jamie Oliver, Jamie at Home
¾ lb. rhubarb (about 3 stalks), finely sliced (leaves trimmed off and discarded)
¼ cup sugar
1 to 2 bottles of sparkling wine, Prosecco, or Champagne
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove the lid and let simmer for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Once the rhubarb has reached a thick compote consistency, transfer it to a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender). Set aside to cool. Give the mixture a good stir and divide the puree between 6 glasses. Pour the sparkling wine over the top, stirring with a small spoon or swizzle stick as you pour.
Yield: 6 drinks