By BRENDA LUCAS

For HD Media

Rhubarb is a vegetable known for its reddish stalks and sour taste and nears the end of its peak season as it is most available April through June. Due to its sour taste, it's normally cooked, sweetened with sugar or used as an ingredient for other dishes, but rarely eaten raw. Studies show the leaves should be avoided at all times as they contain a toxic chemical. A very good source of vitamin K1, depending on whether it's cooked, rhubarb contains a low calorie content but isn't especially rich in essential nutrients. It's also high in fiber and contains small amounts of calcium and potassium.

Also known as pieplant, rhubarb works well with other flavors combined in stuffing, meat and fish sauces, tarts, pies, ice cream sandwiches and others such as these recipes from allrecipes.com:

RHUBARB CRANBERRY

ROLLUPS

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 cup cranberry juice

4 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed

2 1/2 cups biscuit mix

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously grease two-quart round baking pan. Stir together 1 cup white sugar and cranberry juice in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle 2 cups rhubarb into prepared baking pan. Stir together biscuit mix, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in milk and oil until soft dough forms. Roll dough into 10-inch square on floured surface; spread with butter. Top evenly with remaining 2 cups rhubarb and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Starting with long edge, roll up dough to form log. Gently press seam down; cut crosswise into 9 rolls. Arrange rolls in prepared dish. Pour reserved cranberry syrup over rolls; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons white sugar. Bake until rolls are golden brown and sauce is bubbly, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack about 30 minutes. If desired, loosen sides and invert onto serving platter.

ALMOND RHUBARB

COFFEE CAKE

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed

3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, optional

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round pans. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, salt and baking soda; add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Stir in rhubarb and 1/2 cup almonds. Pour into prepared pans. In small bowl, combine white sugar and butter or margarine. Stir in 1/4 cup almonds. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cake tests done. Let cool in pans on wire rack.

This recipe is from Taste of Home:

STEWED RHUBARB

5-6 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In large saucepan, bring rhubarb and water to boil. Add sugar and cinnamon; return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10-15 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency. Cool.

RHUBARB CUSTARD BARS

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup cold butter

FILLING:

2 cups sugar

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 large eggs, beaten

5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained

TOPPING

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

In bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into greased 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for filling: combine sugar and flour in bowl. Whisk in cream and eggs. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees until custard is set, 40-45 minutes. Cool.

For topping: beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Spread over top. Cover and chill. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

The Pioneer Woman furnishes this recipe:

CINNAMON RHUBARB BREAD WITH BROWN-BUTTER GLAZE

FOR THE CINNAMON RHUBARB BREAD:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1/4 cup applesauce

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups chopped rhubarb

FOR THE BROWN-BUTTER GLAZE:

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half, as needed

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cinnamon rhubarb bread: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray insides of two 8- by 4-inch loaf pans and set aside. In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs. Stir in sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened, taking care to not over-mix. Reserve few pieces of rhubarb. Fold rest of rhubarb into batter and then divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Poke reserved rhubarb pieces into top of the bread, for a pretty effect. Bake about 6065 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted near the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen edges and remove loaves from pans. Cool loaves completely on wire racks.

For the brown-butter glaze: Once loaves have cooled, prepare the brown-butter glaze. First, pour half-and-half into small bowl and set aside. This is just to take the chill off, while you prepare the rest of the glaze. Add sifted powdered sugar to a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In medium saucepan over medium heat, warm butter until golden brown and foaming, stirring occasionally. This should take about 68 minutes. The butter should smell delicious and toasty. If it smells burnt, you went too far. Carefully pour browned butter into powdered sugar, leaving all but the darkest butter sediment behind. Add 1 tablespoon of the half-and-half, and then add the vanilla. Stir vigorously until smooth. You want the glaze to be somewhat thick, but easily pourable. If it seems too thick, add bit more of half-and-half until you like the consistency. Drizzle glaze over the loaves while the glaze is still warm.

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