Funky Rhubarb - Places & Spaces
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Funky Rhubarb

Rhubarb one of the most versatile vegetables in the world. It looks like a better version of celery but the taste is a million miles away from its brother. Don’t let the color fool you, it looks like a tasty sweet stalk to chew on but when you take a bite you will be surprised by the tartness. The stem can be cooked to make a sweet rhubarb confit by adding sweeteners. Or, you can eat them raw. Just cut them in chunky bits and toss them in a fresh summer salad.

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Photos by Ivar de Jong

Don’t worry about any calories because rhubarb is one of the lowest calorie vegetables, packed with phytonutrients as dietary fiber. Rich in vitamin B-complex and the red stalks are contains more vitamin A than in the green varieties. We all know that it’s a powerful antioxidant that is known for keeping a healthy heart, eyes, and immune system, and, of course, to prevent cancer. Another reason to eat Rhubarb is that it provides a good amount of vitamin K which is essential for keeping our bones strong.

You can caramelize them in the oven with some maple syrup or, if you don’t have a oven, you can lay them in sugar water over night. They will soak op a little bit of the sweetness and get a little bit softer while losing a little of that tartness.

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Normally, I like to use green lentils, but for this dish I grabbed my beloved beluga lentils (fancy name, right?), a.k.a. black lentils. It has a great texture, it’s chewier, firmer and retains their shape after cooking better then green or brown lentils. Black lentils work well as a base for salads. Lentils will keep you going all day long. They are packed with protein, molybdenum, manganese, vitamin B’s, iron and fibers that helps to lower cholesterol levels and prevent your blood sugar going trough the roof after meals. They provide a slower and more consistent source of glucose to the bloodstream. So lentils are a great nutrition source for those who suffer from diabetes. Disclaimer: It doesn’t mean that you have to stuff yourself with it.

They are also known for their high levels of folic acid! This vital vitamin is also known to pregnant women to prevent birth defects. It also supports your red blood cell production, helps to prevent anemia, allows nerves to function, and helps to prevent dementia. And here is the secret, 1 cup of lentils provide 90% of the daily recommended intake! Other great sources are: dark leaf greens like kale, spinach, or beet greens. Luckily for us, folic acid is easily absorbed, used and stored by the body. And if you have a good balanced diet, you intestinal bacteria will produce folic acid. Thats why it is important to keep your intestine happy!

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Ow wait, I forgot the mention, almost fat free.

Funky rhubarb summer salad

For the rhubarb:
1 or 2 stalks of rhubarb
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 cup water

Lentils:
1 1/2 cup beluga lentils
1 cup sugar snaps, cut in rings
1/2 cup cherry tomato, halved
1 1/2 cup strawberries, in fourths

1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, the smallest you can find.
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup mint leaf, shredded

I recommend to prepare the rhubarb and the lentils a day before. Cut the stalks into thumb size pieces (1 cm). In small bowl mix the water with the agave syrup. Make sure the bowl is big enough. Add the rhubarb and let it rest in the refrigerator over night.

Rinse the lentils and let them soak for about hour. Drain the water and cook them for 35 minutes on medium heat until it get to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid. In the meantime, mince the shallot. Check on your lentils. You will notice how they will keep their shape, unlike red lentils. Drain the water and mix the lentils in a big bowl along with the minced shallot and let it cool down. When cooled, cover them with plastic wrap and set it aside in the fridge.

The next day you can grab your bowl with the lentils and let it get to room temperature. When it’s warmed up add all the tomatoes, strawberries, mint leaf and your rhubarb chunks. Toss everything together with your hands. Before serving, add a pinch of sea salt, ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

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