Rocking pink: 5 of the best rhubarb recipes

Eye-popping puds and a neon pickle – we’re talking rhubarb, the sweet-sharp taste of now…

Rhubarb and orange sponge pudding

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

SERVES 6-8

FOR THE RHUBARB
600g rhubarb (trimmed weight) cut into 2cm-3cm lengths
125g golden caster sugar

FOR THE SPONGE
30g flaked almonds
200g golden caster sugar
225g unsalted butter softened and diced
200g self-raising flour sifted
25g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder sifted
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 medium eggs
100ml smooth orange juice (try blood orange if available or alternatively clementine juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract

TO SERVE
Vanilla custard or pouring cream (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180 C fan/gas 6. Select an ovenproof dish about 2-litre capacity (for example a shallow 30cm oval gratin dish or equivalent round or rectangular dish). Toss the rhubarb with the sugar in a large bowl then arrange evenly over the base of the dish.
2. Reserving the flaked almonds and 2 level tablespoons of the caster sugar, place all the remaining sponge ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and cream together. Smooth this on top of the rhubarb, scatter over the reserved almonds and sugar and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted at the centre comes out clean. Can be served warm or newly cooled (when it may sink a little but tastes just as good). Accompany with vanilla custard or pouring cream if wished.

Rhubarb crumble with nutmeg and pistachios

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

SERVES 6

FOR THE RHUBARB LAYER
800g rhubarb (trimmed weight) cut into 3cm lengths
75g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp self-raising flour

FOR THE CRUMBLE
150g self-raising flour
150g golden caster sugar
150g ground pistachios
1 tsp ground nutmeg
150g unsalted butter chilled and diced

TO SERVE
1 tbsp coarsely chopped pistachios
icing sugar for dusting
vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Select an ovenproof dish about 2-litre capacity (for example a shallow 30cm oval gratin dish). Toss the rhubarb ingredients together and arrange over the base of the dish.
2. Place the crumble ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and whiz to crumbs that just start to cling together in nibs, taking care to stop the motor before they turn into a dough. Scatter this mixture over the fruit and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp and juices are bubbling up at the sides. Scatter over the chopped nuts and leave the crumble to cool for 20-30 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and accompany with ice cream, if wished. It is also delicious cold.

Rhubarb and custard trifles

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

SERVES 6

FOR THE RHUBARB
400g trimmed rhubarb
75g golden caster sugar

FOR THE TRIFLES
150ml double cream
150g light fruit cake or Genoa cake
1½ tsp ginger wine

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Slice the rhubarb into 2cm lengths and layer it in a small baking dish, sprinkling it with the caster sugar as you go. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then carefully pour off the syrup (save it for another use) and leave the fruit to cool.
2. Have ready 6 x 150ml cocktail glasses or serving dishes. In a medium bowl whisk the double cream to soft, fluffy peaks. Coarsely crumble the light fruit cake or genoa cake and divide among the glasses. Drizzle the wine over each. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the rhubarb in a layer on top, then spoon a couple of tablespoons of bought vanilla custard over each one. Add a dollop of the whipped cream, dust with cinnamon and chill until required. Best served on the day.

Spiced rhubarb relish

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

MAKES 1 JAR

300g rhubarb (trimmed weight) stems about 1.5cm thick
100g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
50g raisins
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
1 slice fresh ginger root 1cm thick
¼ tsp sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Slice the rhubarb into 1cm lengths and arrange in a small, shallow baking or gratin dish. Scatter over half the sugar, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until the fruit is soft and has given out its juices.
2. Tip the fruit and juices into a sieve set over a small pan to collect the liquid, then stand the sieve over a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan including the rest of the sugar, bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes until thick and syrupy.
3. Discarding any more juices given out by the rhubarb in the sieve, gently tip the fruit into the pan and turn it a couple of times to coat it and combine. Carefully transfer the relish to a small dish or pretty jar and leave to cool. You can leave in the flavourings and remove them on eating. The relish keeps well in the fridge for several days, in which case bring it back up to room temperature to serve. This goes beautifully with roast or grilled lamb in place of redcurrant jelly or with good cheddar cheese in place of chutney.

Rhubarb with saffron yoghurt and pecan crunch

Image: Chris Alack. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe

SERVES 4

FOR THE CRUNCH
1 tsp unsalted butter
100g pecans
1 tbsp date syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt

FOR THE RHUBARB
200g rhubarb
small pinch of saffron filaments
30g honey

FOR THE YOGHURT
300g Greek yoghurt

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Grease a small roasting tin or dish with the butter. Coarsely chop the pecans, spread them out in the tin and toast in the oven for 20 minutes. In a small bowl combine the date syrup, balsamic vinegar, ground ginger and pinch of sea salt. Drizzle this over the nuts, stir to coat and roast for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Spread the nuts over a sheet of clingfilm and leave to cool. (This is probably twice as much nut crunch as you will need but it keeps well for days in an airtight container and is good scattered over porridge or granola.)
2. At the same time, cut the rhubarb (trimmed weight) into 2cm lengths. Place in a small pan with the honey, cover partially with a lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the fruit releases its juices and has softened. Turn up the heat a little and simmer uncovered until you have a thick, jammy purée, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch. Divide this among four 150ml ramekins or glasses and leave to cool.

Recipes by Annie Bell