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Waiting For Rhubarb

There I was, waiting patiently throughout the spring extended winter for my rhubarb plants to make their entrance proper and bring forth stalks enough for me to cook with.

I had very particular plans for the first rhubarb of the season, in the shape of a recipe that may possibly explain why Martijn Kajuiter of the fabulous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has a Michelin star and I do not.

When rhubarb goes to seed

My somewhat over-enthusiastic rhubarb

I was a little perturbed however, when, with a dry spell and a little bit of heat, my rhubarb plants got ahead of themselves and started producing seed heads – a thing I have not seen rhubarb do before. Pretty though the seed heads may have been, they weren’t going to do rhubarb production any favours. They consequently met a swift end and the plants were left to get on with their normal stalk-producing business. Thankfully, there was enough of that happening to meet my stewy dessert purposes.

It had all started a couple of months ago with a conversation on Twitter between myself and Martijn Kajuiter, which went something like this:

Tweeting with Martijn Kajuiter

What can I say. I was intrigued by the idea of a dessert which called for the addition of beetroot juice to stewed rhubarb. And now, several months later, having finally had the opportunity to try the combination out, let me tell you that it was well worth the wait.

Rhubarb and beetroot together. Sweet.

Rhubarb and beetroot together. Sweet.

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Martijn Kajuiter’s Rhubarb Dessert With Beetroot

I don’t know what more elaborate preparation Martijn applies to his restaurant version, but even in its simplified form here, this is well worth a try. I can only say that my reaction to the taste of the beetroot in the dish was surprise followed very quickly by delight.

As for the recipe itself, Martijn calls for jam sugar, though I just used the normal granulated variety. You can also reduce the amount of sugar used, if that’s to your taste. Unless you have access to beetroot juice, you’ll need some fresh beetroot and a juicer – to get 50ml of juice, I needed around 125g of beetroot. I’ve halved all of the quantities in the original recipe, but double them back up if you like.

His recipe also says that he serves the rhubarb with vanilla ice cream and toasted sugarbread. Sugarbread is a Dutch speciality – a yeasted white bread with spiced sugar cubes cooked into the loaf. I didn’t have or make sugarbread for this (though I will someday!) – I just served with ice cream and crumbled pieces of shortbread, which did very nicely.

For the beetroot stewed rhubarb:
  • 500g rhubarb, chopped
  • zest and juice of half an orange
  • 50ml beetroot juice (juice around 125g of fresh beetroot)
  • 200g sugar
To serve:
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Shortbread or ginger biscuits (cookies), coarsely crumbled
You’ll also need:
  • A juicer and fresh beetroot, unless you have an alternative source of beetroot juice
The Steps:
  • Place the rhubarb, orange zest and juice, beetroot juice and sugar in a saucepan, covered, over a medium heat.
  • Cook until it just starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the rhubarb pieces are very soft and disintegrate easily, around 20 minutes.
  • You can serve this warm with lots of vanilla ice cream and some crumbled shortbread if you like. Cream or natural yoghurt would work well either.
The Variations:
  • I would definitely consider using this as a basis for rhubarb fool, with lots of whipped cream folded into the beetroot stewed rhubarb.
The Results:
  • This amount serves 3-4


  1. ValleyWriter

    I have never seen rhubarb go to seed like that. Glad you were able to save it! The dessert sounds—and looks—delicious!

  2. jenn

    Cool!! I need to try me some rhubarb this year.

  3. The Diva on a Diet

    You know, I’ve never been a fan of rhubarb and I’m not entirely sure why. Something about it scares me a little. That said, I am loving the sound of this unusual dessert, Spud. For one thing, its gorgeous! And for another, it sounds delicious!

    We had a spectacular meal at Cliff House the last time I was in Ireland, so it was nice to be reminded of it with this post. :)

  4. Daily Spud

    ValleyWriter: The seeded rhubarb took me completely by surprise, I have to say. I was relieved that there was still some normal rhubarb left for me!

    jenn: do try rhubarb if you haven’t already – I’m a big fan

    Diva: I’ve grown up eating rhubarb, so I don’t find it scary at all – though who knows what set of factors can be at work when it comes to our feelings about different foods! As for the Cliff House, it is spectacular, both in terms of food and setting. I’ve only been once but would love to eat there again.

  5. Sophie

    I so love beetroot combined with rhubarb: their flavours go so well together!!

    Your dessert sound like heaven to me! Yum,…

    I just baught my very first rhubarb from this season! Now, I know what I will make! Thanks!

  6. Lilly Higgins

    I love rhubarb! I had a rhubarb & strawberry crumble last weekend, the first of many this year. I love the idea of adding beetroot, even a bit would help keep the lovely pink colour! Brilliant!

  7. Marnie

    Sounds lovely! I was just bemoaning the fact that I no longer have Rhubarb growing in my garden. (we moved) I really miss it. Its one of my favorite springtime treats and it is so ridiculously expensive to buy. (By the way, for any other Americans who might be wondering- beetroots are what we call beets)

  8. Phyllis

    Ok, how cool is it that you are on a tweeting basis with a Michelin starred chef? The dessert looks fabulous, love that vibrant red color from the beets. It might actually get me to try cooking rhubarb for the first time. Another first, learning about sugarbread. And that pink rhubarb flower – gorgeous!

  9. Helen

    That gone to seed rhubarb looks vaguely like a pinkish cauliflower.

    It would never have occured to me to mix rhubarb and beetroot. I love both and the colour must be totally fantastic.

  10. Phoo-D

    Wow, I’ve never seen rhubarb go to seed either! I saw the picture and thought, “something looks funny with her rhubarb!”. Ours is still coming along but this recipe looks divine once it takes off!

  11. Daily Spud

    Sophie: delighted to have given you an idea for your first rhubarb of the season!

    Lilly: the colour with the beetroot added is fabulous – it’s a winner all ’round

    Marnie: Thanks for dropping in! Shame that you had to leave your rhubarb behind. I will likely be moving soon myself and I want to bring my rhubarb plants with me if I can – I’d hate to be without them :)

    Phyllis: that’s one of the things you just gotta love about twitter – just how easy it can be to end up casually chatting with the possessors of Michelin stars!

    Helen: I had precisely the same thought about the gone to seed rhubarb – I suspect that it tastes nothing like cauliflower, though :D

    Phoo-D: Something did indeed look funny with my rhubarb, lol. Do try the recipe out when your own rhubarb comes good, I think you’ll like it!

  12. 5 Star Foodie

    I have never seen rhubarb paired with beetroot but what a great idea – I am looking forward to try this for sure!

  13. Chef E

    I can’t help but to tell you to pour your self a cold porter or pint of guiness and sit down…

    When I was in Ireland I met this nice lad, a bit young for me, but he had good intentions. He met me at a pot luck, and told his friends how beautiful and enchanting I was. He also brought me a wee pie that he said was rhubarb, and that when he heard from his friend I was visiting, he made it himself, and just for me.

    Never having had rhubarb, I figured it was a special and magical pie ingredients, so we cut the pie and spread its blessings around the room. The night continued on as the lad also only had eyes for me. The more the drinks flowed the more the stories of truth be told, and that is when I discovered there was no magic in that pie except upon my tongue.

    For the lad had lied and brought me a pie, made by another women, one for whom he had no feelings at all. Then I slammed my pint down, threw back my whiskey and informed him I had eyes for another!

    I have been in love with rhubarb since that cold rainy April day in Cavan…

  14. Daily Spud

    5 Star Foodie: I think you’d enjoy the combination Natasha!

    Chef E: special, magical and inspiring :)

  15. tasteofbeirut

    I love the combo! This verrine looks great.
    Love the seeds on your rhubarb plant. Was it an excess of testosterone?

  16. gastroanthropologist

    I am going crazy for rhubarb – its not that popular where I’m from in the States – so am loving how easy it is to get here. I love beetroot, in all forms, and think it would pair great with the rhubarb and the color of the beetroot makes it so vibrant.

  17. The Duo Dishes

    Whoa, that is definitely an interesting addition on your rhubarb. Just a little patience, and you got your just desserts. :)

  18. Jamie

    Even without tasting it I have to say it is so beautiful to look at! The shades of red are gorgeous! And it does sound super tasty. Getting ideas now for rhubarb which, sad to say, I have only just now gotten up the courage to cook and bake!

  19. Daily Spud

    tasteofbeirut: Thanks so much for dropping by! I don’t know if testosterone was responsible for the rhubarb’s over-enthusiasm – it’s certainly one way of explaining it, lol

    gastroanthropologist: they do pair beautifully – I’m a huge fan of rhubarb and delighted to discover yet another way to enjoy it

    Duo Dishes: I did indeed get my just desserts in the end :D

    Jamie: oh I love to bake rhubarb in tarts, cakes and crumbles (mind you, I’ve grown up eating it, so it doesn’t daunt me so) – hope your experiences with rhubarb are all good ones!

  20. Tangled Noodle

    Any more left? Due to the early warm spring we’re having, my rhubarb are growing like crazy – the leaves are ENORMOUS! I’d better start harvesting and what better motivation than this lovely treat. But I gave away my juicer, thinking I had no need of it! I will have to search for beet juice then.

  21. Daily Spud

    Good luck with sourcing the beet juice, TN, or if not, hope you enjoy your rhubarb crop in any number of other tasty ways!

  22. John O'Neill

    In a mad moment I just made a dessert from a mighty rhubarb and an overgrown beetroot from my garden. It’ll be rubbish for the compost, I thought. But no, it was delicious. The important point is that nothing was wasted. The beetroot was cubed and boiled along with the rhubarb, brown sugar added and simmered down, a dust of ginger, and a dollop of Hokey Pokey icecream. Bloody delicious! I looked like a vampire afterwards. I did say no waste – the beetroot leaves were steamed over the spuds for the main and very good too with a dash of Merlot vinaigrette.

  23. Daily Spud

    Love it John! How utterly fabulous – and who cares if you looked like a vampire afterwards – it was all taste and no waste, the most satisfying way to eat.

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