The classic and humble tart and crumble filler has a much more versatile repertoire than we once thought.

Rhubarb, so frequently assigned to tarts, crumbles, jams and puddings, and sometimes wines; often combined with apple or strawberries, maligned as tart and abrasive and overdosed with sugar, does also have a more versatile repertoire.

RHUBARB GOES WITH: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cardamom, pepper, vanilla, raspberries, strawberries, apples, lemons, oranges, walnuts, ricotta, chèvre, cream, chocolate, balsamic vinegar, chicken, pork and duck.

These recipes were originally published in the February 2016 issue of Australian Country. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Click here for more recipes.

Recipes & styling by Kay Francis
Photography Ken Brass

Salad of Roasted Rhubarb, Baked Ricotta & Smocked Chicken

Serves 6

300g thick rhubarb stalks, washed
and trimmed
2 tablespoons crema ai fichi
(concentrated fig balsamic glaze)
5 tablespoons walnut oil
2 x 250g firm ricotta rounds (or 500g
fresh ricotta)
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup walnut halves
500g smoked chicken breast fillets
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch large leaf rocket

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Cut rhubarb into 3cm lengths and combine on a shallow baking tray with 1 tablespoon of the fig balsamic and 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil, turning rhubarb to coat well. Place in oven and roast 1 hour. Line a small oven tray with baking paper and place ricotta rounds on it. Brush these with walnut oil then sprinkle generously with coarse black pepper. Place in oven with rhubarb to roast 1 hour. (If using fresh ricotta, use a small ramekin as a mould to make two rounds.)

Place walnuts on a small oven tray and bake in same oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Cut smoked chicken into 2cm dice and combine in a salad bowl with washed and trimmed watercress and rocket. Add roasted rhubarb, walnuts and ricotta, cut into small wedges. For the dressing, whisk together remaining walnut oil and fig balsamic, and pour over salad before serving.

 Rhubarb Gingerbread Cake

Serves 8

60g butter
½ cup (100g) soft brown sugar
8 thin rhubarb sticks, washed and
1 cup walnuts, roasted and chopped
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ nutmeg, freshly grated (or ½
teaspoon ground nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
60g butter, melted
½ cup (100g) soft brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses or treacle
½ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 180˚C. To make topping, melt butter in a small saucepan, add sugar and stir over a low heat until mixture is smooth and well amalgamated. Pour into a 20cm cake tin (preferably not spring-form, as the topping may leak) and spread to completely cover base. Cut rhubarb to fit base of tin, starting from the centre piece and working on each side to the edge. You will need to cut the ends on an angle to fit snugly in tin. Place the rhubarb with the outside of the stalk down (the inner side is concave). Sprinkle chopped walnuts over rhubarb.

To make gingerbread, sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. In another bowl whisk together, melted butter, sugar, egg, molasses and buttermilk, until smooth. Pour this mixture into dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour mixture over topping in cake tin. Bake 60 minutes in centre of preheated oven, until cake tests done when a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Rest in tin 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate or board. Allow enough room on plate or board for some of the topping to drip off. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with whipped cream, or equal parts of whipped cream and natural yoghurt combined.

 Rhubarb Ice Cream with Chocolate Tarts

Serves 6

500g rhubarb, trimmed and washed
4 green cardamom pods, crushed
2 tablespoons agave sweetener,
or honey
3 egg yolks
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cup pouring cream
3 00g purchased dark chocolate
shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 cup pouring cream
4 green cardamom pods, crushed
3 00g dark chocolate (70 per cent plus)
broken into small pieces

Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with 4 cardamom pods and the sweetener. Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 15 minutes, until rhubarb is soft and breaking down. Remove cardamom pods. Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar until pale. Heat cream in microwave or on stove top until simmering. Stir, while very hot, into egg yolk mixture, then whisk 1 minute longer, to give a thin custard. Stir hot rhubarb mixture into custard. Cool, then churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until required. (Alternatively, pour mixture into a shallow container and freeze, stirring with a fork every hour to keep mixture smooth.)

To make chocolate tarts, cut pastry to fit 6 x 10cm individual tart tins (or if you prefer, 1 large tart). Press into tins and trim edges. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Place a large metal tray in oven. Prick bases of tarts with a fork, line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or weights. Place tarts on heated metal tray and bake blind for 20 minutes.

Remove weights and paper and return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until pastry base is cooked through. Remove from oven and cool in tins. Heat cream and cardamom pods in a small saucepan. Cover and stand for 20 minutes to allow cardamom flavour to infuse cream. Remove pods, reheat cream, add chocolate and stir over a low heat until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture (ganache) into tarts and stand at room temperature to set.

Move ice cream from freezer to refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve, place a generous scoop of rhubarb ice cream on each tart.

 Poached Rhubarb with Ginger

Serves 6-8

1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed and washed
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups water
2 strips lemon peel
2 tablespoons glace ginger, finely sliced

Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces. Combine sugar with water in a saucepan and stir over medium/low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil; add rhubarb, lemon peel and ginger. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape. Cool to room temperature, refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove fruit with a slotted spoon and serve with cream, crème fraiche or yogurt.

 Rhubarb & Orange Jelly

Makes 3 cups

1/2 of 1 orange
1.2kg Rhubarb, trimmed, washed and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 1/2 cups water
450gm caster sugar

Squeeze the juice of half an orange into a large saucepan. Cut the skin into chunks and add it to the saucepan along with rhubarb, cinnamon stick and water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is very tender. Pour the mixture into a muslin cloth. Tie muslin and suspend over a large bowl to drain overnight. Do not squeeze, stir or shake the suspended mixture as the jelly will become cloudy. Measure amount of liquid extracted from the mixture.

Allow 450g of sugar for each 600ml of liquid. In a large saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the liquid and sugar; bring to a full rolling boil. Allow cooking rapidly uncovered, until temperature reaches 105C (221F) At this point, remove from heat and begin testing the jelly on a chilled plate. Let stand until cold, if jelly forms a skin and wrinkles when pushed with a finger, it is ready. If not, continue to cook and re-test at intervals. This batch set at 110C. Skim off any white scum that may have risen to the surface. Ladle into hot sterilized jars and then seal. May be stored for up to 1 year.

 Rhubarb Relish

Makes about 3 cups

Peel and juice of 1 lime
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed and washed, cut into 2- 3cm pieces
1/2 cup raw sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons water

Tie the lime peel and cardamom pods in muslin and place into a saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Gently stir occasionally. Cool to room temperature, remove lime peel and cardamom pods and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Serve accompanied by soft cheeses and walnut bread.

 Rita’s Spiced Rhubarb Cake

Serves 12- 14

3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb Soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup applesauce
300g rhubarb, cut into 2-3cm pieces
1/2 cup almond meal
Icing sugar, for dusting

Pre-heat oven 180c. Grease and line a 20x20cm square or 23cm spring form pan. Beat eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift together flour, soda and spices and fold into egg mixture in two batches, alternately with the applesauce. Fold through the rhubarb and almond meal. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in pan. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

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