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Rhubarb spritzer

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Rebecca Cooney/Newsday /MCT

(Read caption) A group of summer non-alcoholic drinks (from left), lemonade, rumless rickey, nonalco punch, and iced green tea with ginger and mint.

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Spring has finally, finally arrived for good. Besides an abundance of blossoms, sunnier days, and friendlier people, long stalks of crimson rhubarb are back in the grocery produce section.

Say the words “rhubarb” and most people think of warm rhubarb and strawberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Yum! But Louisa Shafia in her lovely cookbook “Lucid Food: Cooking for an eco-conscious life” offers another tasty use for one of spring’s first vegetables: rhubarb spritzers.

The syrup takes only takes a few minutes to make and once it cools you’ll have a sparkling drink to toast the magnolia tree blooming outside your window. The ruddy blush of the spritzer is just like the freshness of the sun-and-breeze-kissed faces I see out walking in my neighborhood – a welcome sight after an intense winter kept us all burrowed deep down in puffy coats and woolen scarves for months.

But the scarves have been tucked away and the once icy sidewalks are now laced in delicate petals.

I served rhubarb spritzers at a dinner party this weekend and my guests grinned from ear to ear. You could even add the syrup to a jug of lemonade for another twist on a familiar refreshment. Three cheers for spring’s arrival!

Rhubarb spritzer
From “Lucid Food: Cooking for an eco-conscious life” by Louisa Shafia
Serves about 8

10 stalks fresh rhubarb
2 cinnamon sticks
Honey, to taste
Sparkling water or seltzer
4 strawberries, thinly sliced
1 spring mint

Slice off the leaves and trim brown parts from rhubarb stalks and discard. Rinse and slice into 2-inch pieces. Place rhubarb and cinnamon sticks in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until rhubarb is soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the pulp against the sides of the strainer. Whisk in honey, to taste. Discard cinnamon sticks and pulp (or use pulp to add bulk to a strawberry pie). Allow liquid to cool.

To serve, pour into glasses filled with ice and top off with sparkling water or seltzer. Garnish with a few strawberries slices and a mint leaf.

Related post: Sparkling watermelon lemonade

Kendra Nordin blogs at Kitchen Report.


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