Given its national distribution and historical staying power, rhubarb should take a place with salmon and maple syrup as one of our national-level foods. We are into the heart of rhubarb season, and I am finding all sorts of ways to slip this sour treat into pies and crisps. Last night I stewed some with onions and made a salad, and I have been giving small bags away as my patch produces far more than I need.
The trouble with rhubarb is its acidity, so I am always on the lookout for new ways to capture and mediate its flavour. The best rhubarb recipe I have encountered this year was being offered by the Tart Cart at the Victoria Public Market; a rhubarb butter tart. I love butter tarts, but they are pretty sweet, and of course rhubarb isn’t and together the flavours blend into buttery goodness. This is an all around great combo, and goes to show why markets are such amazing places; encountering new and interesting foods is a huge part of the market experience.
Inspired by the tart, I decided to make a butter rhubarb flan for the weekend, and I found a few recipes for rhubarb butter tarts drifting about the internet. The trick to baking with rhubarb when making treats with shorter cooking times is a form of par-boiling; the rhubarb is chopped, covered in boiling water, and allowed to stand for five minutes. This softens the rhubarb enough to be tender after a short cooking time but maintains the shape of the chunks. The result is pure deliciousness, so this rhubarb season I urge you to chase after the Tart Cart and try this interesting and very Canadian treat.