How to choose: Resembling long, bright red celery stalks, rhubarb is best when crisp and plump. Discard any leaves (they’re highly toxic). Refrigerate rhubarb in plastic and use within three to seven days.

Preparation tips: Supertart rhubarb needs sweetness to balance its acidity. For a versatile compote, simmer 3 cups fresh rhubarb chunks with about 1/2 cup natural sweetener until thick. Spike with your favorite flavors—orange peel, strawberries, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla bean—then layer in parfait glasses with yogurt, spread on pancakes, blend into batters, or serve with chicken or pork.

Health benefits: These slender, beautiful stalks provide potassium, calcium, and vitamin C—and the comforting joy that spring has arrived.

—Elisa Bosley

Apple-Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
(Serves 8)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 baking apple (such as Granny Smith or Braeburn), peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed strawberries, sliced
3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix all topping ingredients in a medium bowl or food processor until mixture begins to clump together.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Transfer to an 8x8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

3. Crumble topping evenly over fruit. Bake until fruit is tender when pierced with a fork and topping is crisp, 30–35 minutes. At 20 minutes, cover with foil if necessary to keep topping from overbrowning. Cool 20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 227 calories
% fat calories: 42
Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat:4g
Cholesterol: 415mg
Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 31g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 8mg