My dad grows rhubarb in his garden and he’ll periodically bring me a bunch or two when it starts to get too large. I am always excited to receive it! Rhubarb is definitely under-appreciated as vegetables go, probably in part due to poor preparation. Raw rhubarb stalks are incredibly tart, and if they’re very thick, they can also be fibrous near the base. These factors are certainly challenges to work with, but if you peel the bases of the thickest stalks and temper the tartness with the right amount of sugar (but not too much!), rhubarb has an awesome fruity flavor that can really shine in a lot of different dishes.
As much as I love rhubarb fools, this time I was itching to try something different, something that didn’t involve cooking the rhubarb down. While I was browsing through back issues of Saveur online, I came across these muffins. Rhubarb in muffins? Definitely fit my criteria of something different! I was fairly surprised that the rhubarb is added to the muffin batter raw; it seemed like it wouldn’t lose its tartness and would stay too crunchy. But I figured they had tested the recipe and probably knew what they were talking about, so I added the rhubarb raw as written! And the recipe writers were correct: the rhubarb softened enough and turned sweet during baking, similar to blueberry muffins. Enough of the tartness remained to nicely complement the sweetness of the streusel topping. Overall a great success! Gave one to my dad as a thanks for the rhubarb and he said it looked and tasted like it was from a professional bakery. Thanks, Dad! :)