Hint—it’s not ramps.
With flowers and (somewhat) warmer weather, spring also brings in a slew of seasonal vegetables and herbs, making it an exciting time for chefs as farmers' markets set up shop. While you might be expecting (or hoping) to see fresh tomatoes and basil in the stalls during the first month of spring, Alex Guarnaschelli is here to tell you that you won’t be seeing them until July or August—“so settle in,” she jokes. You will find fava beans, ramps, green garlic, asparagus (the one thing she has to have at her Easter table), and fiddlehead ferns; but if you ask Guarnaschelli, she’s on a huge rhubarb kick at the moment.
“I found a little [rhubarb] at the market and I’m starting to see that kind of come out,” she says. “So I’m really into mixing rhubarb into cocktails, making a shrub with rhubarb. And I love the sourness of rhubarb, macerated with a little sugar, with spring vegetables.”
If you’re looking to cook with rhubarb, Guarnaschelli says it pairs well with peas and fresh beans (such as cranberry beans), and she loves it with edamame. The sourness (again, macerated with sugar) and the crunchiness of the vegetable goes well with sweeter foods, such as spring peas and strawberries—the latter being “one of life’s greatest combinations,” she says, and the reason why you’ll see strawberry rhubarb pies and tarts everywhere this season. However, you can also serve it on top of asparagus with salsa verde, or even a good steak. While rhubarb can be difficult to cook, we’ve found a few other tricks to ramp up the taste too, from making it into a syrup to poaching it and serving it with foie gras and pistachios—and yes, pairing it with strawberries, of course.
“I think rhubarb just pairs well with a lot of the flavors of spring, honestly," Guarnaschelli says. "It’s my ingredient right now. I’ll dump it like a hot potato in a few weeks, once something better comes along—but right now, rhubarb and I are in a semi-serious relationship,”
We also got a few of Guarnaschelli’s tips for making the perfect deviled eggs—and while we talked about them in the context of Easter, you can make these savory hors d'oeuvres all-year round. The chef revealed some secret ingredients she likes to use to punch up the flavor, such as dried ginger and potato chips, and instructions for making sure your eggs come out perfectly cooked (and not soft-boiled, which would make them admittedly pretty hard to devil). Curious? You’ll find the rest of the tips in the full interview.