Do you have any idea how sour raw rhubarb is? Until I found this Strawberry, Rhubarb and Radish salad in Louisa Shafia’s New Persian Kitchen cookbook, I’d never thought to eat it raw. Thinly shaved it adds an acidic tang, but be forewarned, it’s astringency can give you that dry tongue feeling, which some chalk up to malic acid. That aside, this is a gorgeously simple spring salad that takes advantage of so much in the market right now: young lettuces, rhubarb, radishes, sweet strawberries and mint. Whatever you do, don’t skip the mint.
I opted to use white balsamic to keep everything from taking on a brownish cast, but if it’s all you’ve got, that’s fine. And while you could shave the rhubarb into ribbons, I wouldn’t. With it’s bite, you’ll get a mouthful of acidity, rather than a gentle zing.
If rhubarb doesn’t sound all that Persian to you, Nat Geo has an interesting history lesson on the spread of the plant from Asia to Europe to Russia and eventually the US. Rhubarb is actually a key component in khoresh rivas, a classic Persian stew. Louisa’s book has a hybridized take on a Georgian stew that she adds rhubarb to, a dish I’m sure I’ll be making soon, if these April showers keep up.
A word on plating: I’ve been trying to figure out what the deal is with this new plating style where everything is placed vertically on one side of the plate or bowl. Does it look artistic and restauranty or eyerolly and pretentious? I can’t decide. Either way, sometimes it’s just fun to play. I suppose there are no wrong answers, as long as it’s delicious.
Strawberry, Rhubarb and Radish SaladPrint Recipe
- 2 T. white balsamic vinegar, divided
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 4 cups loosely packed salad mix
- 1 handful fresh spearmint leaves
- 1 rhubarb stalk, thinly shaved into half moons
- 3 radishes, thinly shaved
- 5-7 strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 1 cup)
- Toasted pistachios, chopped, for garnish
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic. Add the salad mix and mint and toss to coat with your hands. Season with salt and pepper and arrange on a large plate.
In the same bowl, combine the rhubarb, radishes, and strawberries. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and spoon over the greens.
Garnish with pistachios and serve.
The recipe above is barely adapted from Louisa Shafia's New Persian Kitchen and which appeared on the CUESA website here: http://www.cuesa.org/recipe/radish-rhubarb-and-strawberry-salad.