I came back from the shops with a tangle of stems in my bag. thick ribs of rhubarb the color of coastal rocks; crunchy green puntarelle for a salad and a handful of wine gum-colored rainbow chard. Bontarelles and long, faded stems will be sautéed with mashed anchovies and olive oil, but the others need a little more thought.
Bought chard on a whim – I’m very handy with long apricot and ruby stalks. I think chard is two vegetables in one, the tough spinach-like leaves and white, multicolored stems tasty enough if you toss them in melted butter and lemon juice after steaming. This time, I garnished the shanks with the kind of ingredients I might use for a sauce for fried prawns or make into a marinade for grilled chicken thighs: a little chili, lime juice, fish sauce, and honey. We cleaned our plates.
The rhubarb, roasted in the oven with orange and juniper, was more than good enough, but the juices were extraordinarily spicy, bright and refreshing. Juniper adds the weakest note of gin and tonic, which gets more intense if you smash the berries with a pestle first. They cheered up with a bowl of porridge, I can tell you.
The deep-veined leaves you cut from the chard stalks make a fresh squeak. It will be chopped up and used in place of spinach in tomorrow’s thick bean and vegetable soup.
Roast rhubarb with porridge and crumble oats
Oat crumbs, a type of sweet oat ruins, bring some crunch to the party. It will keep for several days in a storage jar in a cool place and crumbles well over vanilla ice cream. Rhubarb can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two and brought to breakfast. Serves 4
rhubarb stalks 800 gr
orange 2, average
caster sugar 2 heaping tbsp
juniper berries; 6
To prepare the oat crumbs:
Pure flour 75g
sea salt good pinch
caster sugar 50 gr
Oatmeal flakes 55g
To prepare the porridge:
Water 400 ml
oatmeal 100 gr
salt to taste
Trim and discard any dry ends from the rhubarb, then cut each stalk into pieces about 2 inches (5 cm) long. Pack the rhubarb into a nonreactive baking dish (heat-resistant glass, ceramic, or stainless steel).
Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.
Cut an orange in half and squeeze its juice into a bowl. Stir in the sugar—it doesn’t need to melt, this will happen in the oven—then press down the juniper berries with a heavy weight to break them up and add them to the orange juice. Pour the juice and berries over the rhubarb and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender (try it with a skewer, it should slide through each piece effortlessly).
Make the kofta: Place the flour and butter in a food processor and blend until coarse crumbs, then add the salt, sugar, and oats. Add a tablespoon of water and shake the bowl back and forth until the mixture forms crumbs. Place it on a baking sheet and slide it into the oven, and it can go in at the same time as the rhubarb. Bake until pale golden (about 20 minutes), then remove and set aside.
Remove the rhubarb from the oven while making the porridge.
Bring the water to a boil, drizzle in the oatmeal and stir for 3 or 4 minutes until it thickens. Toss with a pinch of salt and divide among 4 small bowls. Put a little rhubarb in each bowl, then spoon the rhubarb juice over it. Sprinkle a few crumbs over each plate of fruit and porridge. Serve hot.
Hot sweet chard
I’ve had this as a side dish for grilled mackerel with tempura-style sautéed broccoli, but it’s also just as good over steamed rice. The cooking time will vary slightly according to the thickness of the shanks, so check them every few minutes, and only add the sauce when they start to soften. To thicken the dressing a bit, turn up the heat and let it simmer until it reduces and becomes sticky. Serve 2 as a side dish
For the seasoning:
garlic 2 cloves
Lemongrass 1 stalk
hot red pepper 2 small
ginger 40g piece
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
light soy sauce 1 tbsp
Lemonade 1 tbsp
fish sauce 1 tbsp
liquid honey 3 tbsp
chard stalks 400 gr
peanut oil 3 tbsp
Peel the garlic and crush it into a paste with a pinch of salt, then scrape it into an empty jar. Remove the outer leaves of the lemongrass, and roughly chop the tender stem inside. Put the chopped lemongrass in an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder and blend until you get a dry paste, then add it to the garlic.
Chop the hot pepper and add to the garlic and lemon. Peel the ginger, then grate it into a paste and add it to the jar. Add the vegetable oil, soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce, then spoon the honey, close the lid and shake until combined with a thin syrupy sauce.
Cut the chard stems into short pieces, about 10 cm (10 cm) long. Heat the peanut oil in a large shallow skillet over moderate heat, then add the chard stems and cover with a lid. Let the chard cook for 10 minutes, turning the stems occasionally, until tender.
Pour the sauce into the skillet and stir the chard stems into it. Let the bubbling boil for 4-5 minutes until it coats the shanks, then transfer to a serving platter.
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