The Radiant Rhubarb

Illustrated by Lilly Louise Allen 

As we stride into rhubarb season it’s important to remind ourselves that this mineral and vitamin-packed colourful vegetable is not just for crumbles.

 

Hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork
Ingredients

1kg higher-welfare pork belly, boned, rind removed, cut into 3-4cm cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Groundnut or vegetable oil
375g medium egg noodles
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 punnets cresses (such as coriander, shiso or basil cresses)
Bunch of fresh coriander
3 limes

For the marinade:
400g rhubarb
4 tablespoons runny honey
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, halved and deseeded
1tsp five-spice
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the pork pieces in a roasting tray and put to one side. Chuck all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste, then pour all this over the pork, adding a large wineglass of water. Mix it all up, then tightly cover the tray with tinfoil and place in the preheated oven for about an hour and 30 minutes, or until the meat in tender but not coloured.

Pick the pieces of pork out of the tray and put to one side. The sauce left in the pan will be deliciously tasty and pretty much perfect. However, if you feel it needs to thicken slightly, simmer on a gentle heat for a bit until reduced to the consistency of ketchup. Season nicely to taste, add a little extra soy sauce in need be, then remove from the heat and put to one side.

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Get yourself a large pan or wok on the heat and pour in a good drizzle or groundnut or vegetable oil. Add your pieces of pork to the wok and fry for a few minutes until crisp and golden. (You might need to do this in two batches.) At the same time, drop your noodles into the boiling water and cook for a few minutes, then drain most of the water away. Divide the noodles into four warmed bowls immediately while they’re still moist.

To finish, spoon over a good amount of rhubarb sauce. Divide your crispy pork on top, and add a sprinkling of spring onions, chilli, cresses and coriander. Serve with half a lime each.

Asparagus, goat’s cheese, and rhubarb salad
Ingredients

260ml white balsamic vinegar
100g sugar
500g sliced rhubarb
60ml olive oil plus 2tbsp
900g fresh asparagus
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
green leaves of your choice
60g crumbled goat’s cheese
35g sliced almonds, toasted

Method

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar and sugar over a medium-high heat. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally, cook until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over the rhubarb in a medium bowl and let it stand until the liquid has cooled and the rhubarb is slightly tender.

Strain the liquid from the rhubarb, reserving both. Making a vinaigrette by whisking 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar-sugar mixture with the olive oil in a small bowl. Refrigerate the remaining liquid for another use.

Preheat the grill to medium-high or the oven to 180ºC. Trim off and discard the woody ends of the asparagus and toss the spears with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place asparagus spears horizontally across the hot, oiled grill grates and grill until tender, 5 to 7 minutes, turning once or twice. Let the asparagus cool slightly, then cut the spears into 2-inch pieces. (If grilling isn’t an option, roast them in the oven for 20 minutes.)

In a large bowl, combine the asparagus with the green leaves, goats cheese, almonds, and reserved rhubarb slices. Drizzle vinaigrette over all, toss to coat and serve.