RHUBARB COCKTAIL

Serves 4.

Note: This sweet-tart, pretty-in-pink drink just tastes like spring. The syrup also can be used to flavor granita, to sweeten tea or lemonade or even as a glaze for chicken. From "The Bettlebung Farm Cookbook" by Chris Fischer.

For the syrup:

• 3/4 c. sugar

•2 c. water

2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and chopped

For the cocktails:

• Ice cubes

• 8 oz. (1/2 c.) vodka, divided

• 32 oz. (4 c.) seltzer, divided

Lemon peel, pith removed, cut into strips

Directions

To prepare rhubarb syrup: Combine sugar and water in large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add rhubarb and stir to make sure sugar dissolves. Cover pot, lower heat just a little and boil until rhubarb softens, about 5 minutes.

Pull pan off heat and allow rhubarb to cool in covered pot. Mash rhubarb, then strain juice through a double layer of cheesecloth into a small saucepan. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce until juice is concentrated and syrupy and you are left with about 2 cups. Taste syrup and adjust sugar if necessary. Cool syrup in pan. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until well chilled.

To prepare cocktails: Pour a generous tablespoon of chilled rhubarb syrup into each of 4 chilled glasses. Add ice, vodka and seltzer to taste. Stir, then serve with a lemon strip in each glass. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining rhubarb syrup.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 165 Fat 0 g Sodium 3 mg

Carbohydrates 9 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 40 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

PICKLED RHUBARB

Makes 4 cups.

Note: Tart and tangy, this peppery concoction is great with cheese or charcuterie or anything to which you're looking to add color and punch. From "Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes" by Colby and Megan Garrelts.

• 2 c. water

• 1 c. apple-cider vinegar

• 2/3 c. white-wine vinegar

• 6 tbsp. sugar

• 4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. rhubarb, peeled and sliced into 1/2-in. pieces

• 8 oz. celery, sliced 1/8-in. thick

8 oz. strawberries, thinly sliced

Directions

Mix 2 cups water, vinegars, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In large bowl, toss rhubarb, celery and strawberries. Pour simmering liquid over vegetables and mix well. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, uncovered, overnight to let flavors meld before serving. The rhubarb will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

Nutrition information per serving of 1 tablespoon:

Calories 9 Fat 0 g Sodium 110 mg

Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 7 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

RHUBARB-GLAZED SHRIMP

Serves 6.

Note: From Sunset magazine. Also good with grilled pork chops and chicken.

1/2 c. chopped rhubarb (preferably red rather than green)

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger

• 1 tbsp. chopped garlic

• 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce

• 1/4 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. water

1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp (36 to 42 per pound)

1 green onion, thinly sliced diagonally

Directions

Heat a grill to high (450 to 550 degrees). In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook rhubarb, ginger, garlic, hoisin, sugar and 1/4 cup water. When rhubarb starts to break apart, about 3 minutes, whisk in soy sauce and transfer half the glaze to a small bowl.

Thread shrimp onto 4 metal skewers. Brush both sides of shrimp with glaze from pan. Grill shrimp, turning and basting generously as you go, until they're opaque and grill marks appear, about 8 minutes total.

Transfer to a serving plate and brush with glaze from bowl. Sprinkle with onion. Serve with remaining glaze from bowl on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 100 Fat 0 g Sodium 135 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 53 mg

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 104 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb, 2 lean meat.

ROASTED RHUBARB SALAD

Serves 6.

Note: Roasting rhubarb preserves its color while retaining its shape. It also mellows its tangy bite, which is a good thing for those who might be scared off by the super-tart veggie. Drizzle any extra syrup over ice cream, Greek yogurt or waffles. From "Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes" by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck.

8 oz. rhubarb cut into 1/2-in. pieces

3 tbsp. maple syrup, or to taste

3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 1/2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

• 2 tbsp. thinly sliced shallot

• 2 tsp. minced tarragon

1 lb. watercress, tough stems removed

• 1/4 c. toasted chopped walnut

3 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 c.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss together the rhubarb, maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of oil. Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet and roast until rhubarb is tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, shallot and tarragon. Whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.

In large bowl, combine watercress, walnuts and rhubarb. Gently toss in goat cheese and dressing.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 180 Fat 14 g Sodium 160 mg

Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 3 g Calcium 153 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 7 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 3 fat.

SKILLET CHICKEN WITH RHUBARB

Serves 4.

Note: Don't let the greenish tint of this savory chicken dish dissuade you from trying it — it is so, so good. From Melissa Clark, New York Times.

5 1/2-lb. whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, more as needed

1 tsp. black pepper, more as needed

5 sprigs thyme, preferably lemon thyme

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch green onions, white and light-green stalks thinly sliced (reserve greens for garnish)

2 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1/2 c. dry white wine

3/4 lb. fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2-in. dice (3 c.)

• 1 tbsp. honey, or to taste

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions

Pat chicken dry and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place in a bowl with the thyme sprigs and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove thyme from bowl with chicken, reserving thyme. Add chicken pieces to skillet and sear, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a platter.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir in onion (white and light-green parts) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and reserved thyme; cook 1 minute more. Stir in wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of pan. Add rhubarb, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Return chicken pieces to pot in a single layer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes for breasts and 20 to 25 minutes for legs and thighs, transferring chicken pieces to a platter as they finish cooking.

Whisk butter into rhubarb sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with sliced onion greens.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 820 Fat 50 g Sodium 1780 mg

Carbohydrates 13 g Saturated fat 15 g Calcium 152 mg

Protein 76 g Cholesterol 254 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, ½ other carb, 10 medium-fat meat.

PINEAPPLE RHUBARB STRAWBERRY CONSERVE

Makes about 7 (8-oz.) jars.

Note: This easy rhubarb jam is delicious on biscuits or toast, and can also be served with grilled chicken or pork. Leave out the raisins if you don't like them. From "Blue Ribbon Canning" by Linda J. Amendt.

1 (20-oz.) can juice-packed crushed pineapple

1 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb (1/4-in. pieces, about 3 stalks)

1 1/2 c. crushed strawberries (about 2 pints whole)

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

• 1 (2-oz.) box fruit pectin

• 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

• 6 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

• 1/3 c. golden raisins

Directions

In 8-quart stainless steel stockpot, combine pineapple, rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir in pectin and add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved, then stir in pecans and raisins. Return mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove pot from heat and skim any foam.

Ladle conserve into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Apply hot lids and screw bands.

Process 4-ounce, 8-ounce and pint jars in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from water bath canner and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check seals and remove screw bands. Store jars in a cool, dry dark place for up to 1 year.

Nutrition information per serving of 1 tablespoon:

Calories 56 Fat 0 g Sodium 1 mg

Carbohydrates 14 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 3 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 other carb.