This is the season for coral-coloured forced rhubarb, but the stems can do more than make fools and crumbles. This innovative idea comes from Jeremy Round’s The Independent Cook (1988, republished by Pan, 2001). He suggests the stalks could stand in for sorrel in other recipes.

  • 12 fresh scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30g butter
  • 90g forced rhubarb, cut into 2cm long, cm thick batons
  • 3tbs water
  • 75ml double cream
  • Chervil to garnish
  • Cut the scallops in half, keeping the coral on one half. Season. Heat the butter in a frying pan and saut√© the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

    Remove and keep warm. Put the rhubarb into the pan with the remaining butter, the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2?5 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Remove and keep warm. Add the cream to a pan and cook until slightly thickened. Arrange the scallops on warm plates, spoon the sauce over and sprinkle with chervil.

    I’d eat this with nothing but warm country bread to soak up the juices. Serves four as starter, two as a light meal. If rhubarb can truly double up with sorrel, it might be worth inventing a lovely pink soup.