Rhubarb, together with the red breasted robin, is yet another harbinger of spring. And what a glorious one it is. Rhubarb is a cool weather vegetable and on our farm rhubarb begins growing in early April resplendent with its’ bright green leaves. Rhubarb is said to be native to Tibet, Siberia or northern Asia generally. In ancient times rhubarb was used as a medicinal herb. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that it was used as a food. When most of us think of rhubarb, we inevitably think of pie. There is no doubt rhubarb pie is delicious – so delicious that at one time rhubarb itself was called “pie plant.” There are, however, other uses for rhubarb that are perhaps not quite so famous.
8 x 1/2 cup servings
This is an old fashioned dessert. Before I get started, it begs to be asked, “Just what exactly is this mysterious food known as tapioca?” I am glad you asked…It is a root starch made from cassava or yucca plants. It is generally used to thicken pies or other baked goods but, hey, it makes one heck of a pudding. It seems like I always have a box of tapioca on hand even though I don’t remember ever having bought it. The boxes always leak tiny tapioca spawn all over my cupboards.
4 cups Rhubarb, finely chopped
4 1/2 tablespoons quick tapioca
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the rhubarb, tapioca, salt, sugar, and water in the top of a double boiler. Cook until rhubarb is tender – about 10 minutes. Stir while cooking. When tender remove from heat and add the vanilla. Pour into desert nappies or ramekins and cool. Serve with a little creme fraiche.