Spring Is Rhubarb Season
Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing. Once the snow melts, we welcome Spring like a long lost lover. As the plants around us burst from their dormancy and grow, we drink in the scents, the colors, and the tastes. One of the most dependable parts of Spring is rhubarb. Under a layer of mulch and ice, the crumpled leaves start to peek from the ground, ready to unfurl and grow to the size of elephant ears in a few weeks. Rhubarb is inextricably part of Spring, so I make these Rhubarb Almond Bars. We Minnesotans love our bars.
The Vegetable That Eats Like a Fruit
Rhubarb is unique, in that it is a vegetable that we really only use in sweets. Sure, I’ve make a Roasted Rhubarb and Wild Rice Salad, and you can play around with the tartness of rhubarb in other dishes. But really, we love it in pies, bars, and Rhubarb Scones. A simple Rhubarb Compote is one of my favorite things to make, just to eat the sweet and tangy spears over toast or ice cream.
Secretly a Superfood
The humble rhubarb stalk is actually hiding some health benefits. Red rhubarb has Anthocyanins and Proanthocyanins, potent antioxidants that may prevent heart diseas, cancer and other health problems. It’s loaded with fiber, lowers cholesterol, and supports a healthy gut microbiome. It even helps your liver to detox from drinking alcohol. The tartness of rhubarb comes from Malic Acid and Oxalic Acid, which is not a good thing for people with kindey stones or liver problems. Oxalates also bind to minerals like calcium, reducing the amount that you can absorb at the same meal.
Bars are Packable Snacks
As you can probably tell, these are packed with oats and nuts and rhubarb, making them a very respectable snack or light meal. I like to wrap a few in waxed paper to take along when I’m working or on the go.
I’m always as thrilled to see them as I am to see Spring!
Rhubarb Bars with Sliced Almonds
- 2 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup unbleached flour or half whole wheat pastry
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plant based butter melted
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb about a pound
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot
- Oil a 9×13 inch baking pan and reserve. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, flours, sugar and salt. Drizzle in the "butter" and toss to mix in, then stir in the milk. Scoop out 2 cups of the chunkiest part into a medium bowl, and toss with the almonds. Drizzle in a little more milk as needed to make the remaining clumps into a dough. Press into the pan.
- In a medium pot, combine the rhubarb and sugar and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer as the juices come out of the rhubarb. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla. When the rhubarb is softened and juicy, whisk the milk and arrowroot in a cup, then stir into the simmering rhubarb. Stir until thick. Take off the heat.
- Spread the rhubarb over the bottom crust, the top with the almond mixture.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the juices are bubbling up around the edges and the topping is browned. Cool on a rack. For the neatest slices, refrigerate until completely cold. Cut 4 by 6.