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Rhubarb: A vegetable that tastes, acts like a fruit

BETHANY GRABER FOR THE GLOBE

With its wide flat leaves that could serve as fans, and stalks that look like celery that has been drinking Kool-Aid, rhubarb is one of the season’s most intriguing vegetables. Yes, it is a vegetable, despite being commonly misconstrued as a fruit because of its classic partnership with strawberries. Only the stalks of the plant are edible (those fan-like leaves are poisonous). The red and green ombré shoots will be a mainstay at farmers’ markets through June. Though crisp when raw, once cooked rhubarb becomes stringy in a good way and toothsome, which adds a depth of texture to dishes. It has a unique tartness often tempered by sugar for jams or pies, but with the right pairings it can be savory as well; try braising it with other aromatics or simmering it sweet-and-sour-style with vinegar and a touch of heat to serve alongside chicken or pork. Fruit or vegetable? Dinner or dessert? Rhubarb’s not having an identity crisis. It’s just versatile. Available at farmers’ markets and farm stands.

BETHANY GRABER

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