Many of my favorite vegetables are technically fruits. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and bell peppers all fall under that category. Botanically, the defining feature between fruit and vegetables are seeds—if it has seeds, it's a fruit; if it doesn't, it's a vegetable. In some ways, I feel like I should be ashamed. Under these strict rules, I'm certain I'll never meet my daily required serving of actual vegetables.
There are only so many carrot sticks one person can eat.
Rhubarb, however, is just the opposite. Though it's treated as a fruit in cooking and baking, it is technically a vegetable. Imagine that. Rhubarb grows from the ground on stalks, similar to celery, and sprouts poisonous leaves (which are only fatally poisonous if you decide to eat a few pounds of them). If it wasn't for all of the sugar needed to balance out rhubarb's tart flavor, I could have had a surefire way to get my vegetables eaten.
Perhaps someday I'll find a way to make dessert fall squarely into the healthier food groups...
I often feel rhubarb is an understated flavor. Given the chance to stand alone, it can be magnificently bold and tart all at once (a flavor profile I've truly grown to love). More often than not, however, rhubarb is paired with berries (particularly strawberries) in pies and desserts. While I do enjoy these combinations, every so often I feel like rhubarb should be given the chance to stand on its own. To gain a little independence and prove that it has what it takes to cook up a good dessert.
That is exactly the spirit in which these rhubarb custard tarts were created.
These Rhubarb Custard Tarts combine rhubarb, cardamom, and orange into a treat perfect for light lunches and sweet breakfasts. A whole wheat cardamom crust encases orange poached rhubarb with a sweet egg custard. The true star of the show, however, is the rhubarb orange syrup drizzled on top (it's simply a reduction of the liquid the rhubarb was poached in, but there is so much flavor). I enjoyed this tart both warm from the oven and chilled from the refrigerator as leftovers the next day.