How weird and wonderful is it to know every time you eat rhubarb, that while the stalks are delicious, the leaves are poisonous. Every spring, as I take a spoon of freshly cooked rhubarb, or shovel in a mouthful of rhubarb crisp, I find myself saying to whoever is in earshot “I wonder how people figured this one out”. Who ate the leaves, got sick, and went back to nibble the stalks? It turns out that the leaves are high in oxalic acid, while the stalks are not. Cooking further reduces its concentration.
Now for more veggie science. I am not a huge zucchini fan. It is o.k., but it isn’t something I crave. Its blossoms are a different story. Every spring I look forward to stuffing the blossoms, and enjoying them with a glass of wine. That is my “official spring” moment. That, and getting bitten by blackflies, but I’d rather not discuss that. This year, I learned something new. There are male and female blossoms. Only female squash blossoms mature into squash. Male blossoms are there to fertilize the females, and outweigh and outnumber the female flowers. So, if you buy male blossoms, you are not directly sacrificing future squash. Interestingly, the female blossoms taste different. Raw, they are sweet and delicious. The male blossoms must be cooked, and I remove the pollen because it is bitter.
Being a reluctant fry-er, here is a recipe for baked zucchini blossoms, and rhubarb crisp. Science is so yummy.
Baked Zucchini Blossoms
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
zest of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup Chopped Basil
Salt And Pepper, to taste, a pinch of nutmeg
12 whole Medium Zucchini Blossoms
a drizzle of olive oil and ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
Rinse the blossoms if necessary and remove the pollen. Try to open the blossoms without tearing them.
Mix the cheese, zest, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and put into a piping bag or ziplock bag, and snip the corner.
Stuff the blossoms, leaving enough space at the top of each blossom to twist them closed.
Place in baking dish, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cook for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees until tender.
1-1/2 lb rhubarb stalks, cut in 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I usually use a bit less, but I like it tart)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup melted butter
In large bowl, toss rhubarb, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Transfer an 8-inch square baking pan.
For topping, toss together flour, sugar and oats. Drizzle in butter. Mix well with fork. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture.
Bake in preheated 375F oven until top is golden brown and you see juices bubbling, about 30 minutes.