It’s true that growing things to eat in the garden has a definite therapeutic pay off. The psychological boost which comes from eating something you have grown yourself is really quite striking, quite apart from the turbo charged improvement in taste. That said, there are things which are tricky to grow (celery, pak choi, melons) and there are other plants which seem to be all too eager to please and spring up without so much as a hint of rebellion. Two such are rhubarb and mint.
You might not have considered putting them together and, even if you have, the notion of combining them in a salad is probably just step too far but, not so fast.
With a glut of rhubarb and mint I decided there had to be a way to encourage their co-existence in a way which would provide something nice to eat.
Slicing two stalks of the rhubarb as thinly as my fingers would allow I do the same with a small cucumber and combine them in a bowl. I finely chop some sprigs of mint until I have about a tablespoon full. Adding the mint to the rhubarb and cucumber I then mix two desert spoons of white wine vinegar with one of caster sugar and a teaspoon of salt and, once the sugar is dissolved from my gentle mixing, I pour it over the rhubarb, cucumber and mint and stir well. I squeeze half a lime over the top. Covered with cling film and left to macerate in the fridge for half an hour what emerges is as fragrant and fresh a salad as I can imagine. I ate mine on its own while sitting watching next doors cat try and catch little cornflower blue butterflies but you can eat it however you like.
Still left with half a dozen sticks of rhubarb I cut them into chunks and throw them into a pan with a splash of water, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a thumb sized piece of ginger (sliced) and a handful of mint. Simmered gently for ten minutes the balance of the flavours is a revelation. The ginger gently sweetened but with a ferocious kick and the mint balancing the sweetness and bringing a mellow background to the rhubarb. Eaten with some natural yoghurt is the breakfast of kings or, poured across a small scoop of very good vanilla ice cream it really would challenge anyone’s aversion to this most giving of garden gifts.