The one spring vegetable you’re not cooking, but should

Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

When it comes to produce, there’s an oft-overlooked but funny-named spring favorite—usually matched with fruit in sweets even though it’s actually a vegetable—that you shouldn’t miss. What is it? Drumroll, please...


Rhubarb was love at first bite for me. The first time I baked a strawberry-and-rhubarb dessert it was for the plump, sweet strawberries. But when I took a bite I was unexpectedly smitten with the intensely tart and tender rhubarb—so much so that I forgot about the strawberries.

Recipes to Try:
Get the Strawberry-and-Rhubarb Dessert I Made Here, plus More Delicious, Healthy Spring Dessert Recipes
Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge, Roasted Rhubarb Porridge and More Amazing Rhubarb Recipes

Now, when rhubarb is in season (from April to September), I fanatically stockpile pounds of the crimson celery-like stalks in my freezer. I usually track it down at the farmers’ market. But if you’re lucky, like my mother-in-law, you may find it growing in your backyard. (If you pick your own, don’t eat the leafy greens on top—they’re toxic.)

Don’t Miss:
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12 Fruits and Vegetables You Should Buy Organic
Are Frozen Fruits and Vegetables Just As Good for You As Fresh?

Rhubarb stalker aside, the nutritionist in me can’t help but love rhubarb’s nutrition boons, too: its red-pink color comes from anthocyanins, antioxidants believed to keep your heart healthy and brain sharp. A cup of fresh, chopped rhubarb delivers healthy doses of vitamin C, potassium and bone-healthy vitamin K, for just 26 calories.

This year I’m going to diversify beyond desserts. I'll add rhubarb to my oatmeal for breakfast and for lunch or dinner I'll top a leafy green salad with roasted rhubarb. Be careful: you, too, may catch the rhubarb fevah!

Roasted Rhubarb Salad

Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
Active time: 20 minutes | Total: 40 minutes

Rhubarb roasted for just a few minutes is a tart topping for a mixed green salad with raisins, walnuts and goat cheese.

2 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip)
1/4 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Toss rhubarb with sugar in a medium bowl until well coated; let stand, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, oil, shallot, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add greens; toss to coat with the dressing. Divide the greens among 4 plates. Top with the rhubarb, goat cheese (or feta), walnuts and raisins.

Per serving: 197 calories; 12 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 6 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 211 mg sodium; 387 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (21% daily value), Vitamin C (17% dv).

Tip: To toast chopped nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

What's your favorite thing to cook with rhubarb?

Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

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