Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce + Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

I've just recently become a huge fan of barbecue sauce.  Sure, growing up we ate barbecue sauce from time to time but it was never a big thing and I could really take it or leave it.  But for some reason I'm currently hooked on putting barbecue sauce on everything.  Most everything.  Not breakfast.  Although I wouldn't put it past me.


Ever since making blueberry + pineapple barbecue sauce I've been trying to think of what flavor to play with next.  I thought of rhubarb but was hesitant.  Would it take too much sugar to mellow out?  Would it pair well with savory flavors?  Since it's most common to see rhubarb in pies o jam it seemed a little odd to try and make barbecue sauce with it.  


While it does require more than a handful of ingredients nothing is too out of the ordinary.  The item you might have the hardest time finding is the rhubarb!

Luckily, you can find rhubarb growing randomly all over our town.  A little urban foraging never hurt anyone, right?

The stalks you see above actually came from my cousin.  He has two gigantic rhubarb plants randmoly growing in his backyard.  I've never noticed rhubarb growing so freely in any other location, but then again, maybe I was never really looking for it.  I'm pretty sure they should be selling it for free around here and not having it shipped in from the other side of the country charging $7.00/lb.


I wanted to highlight this sauce in a simple way so I decided on a grilled veggie sandwich.  No tempeh, tofu, or portobellos here.  Just a pile of delicious summer veggies, grilled up in minutes, sandwiched between toast, and smothered in barbecue sauce.

To me, THIS is summer.


And the sauce??  Oh my.  The dipping got a little ridiculous.

It has a nice smokey-tang that you can not only taste but smell, and it's finished with a kick of heat from the jalapeno.  


Slather this on anything you like!  From corn on the cob to grilled veggie sandwiches, tempeh, tofu, or your protein of choice, on quinoa or millet, or as a dipping sauce for fresh veggies...or french fries.

Rhubarb barbecue sauce, who would've thought?


Print this!

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce 

gluten-free, vegan // yields ~2 cups sauce

adapted from: pineapple barbecue sauce

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 1/4-inch slices ~5 large stalks
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons diced + seeded jalapeno
  • 2 - 3 1/2 tablespoons muscovado sugar, sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • oil for cooking
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add the onion + jalapeno and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  About 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add in the rhubarb, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar, molasses, garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  5. Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium-low/low and simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and easily mashed.  Mixture should be thick.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes, then place in your blender or food processor and [carefully! hot liquid!] blend until fully smooth.  
  7. Return to the pot over low heat, taste and adjust seasonings [more sugar/salt/pepper -- I used 3T sugar total] if needed.  
  8. Serve immediately or allow to cool then store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.  Or, allow to fully cool, place in a sealable bag and freeze.  Thaw in the fridge 24hrs before using.

For the grilled veggie sandwich:  I used zucchini, eggplant, and orange bell pepper with a fresh slice of tomato on the bottom.

  1. Preheat grill to about medium/med-high heat.
  2. Slice veggies and toss with oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour out into an even layer on a grill pan or grate and grill for 4-5 minutes, toss, and grill another 3-5 minutes until grilled to your liking.
  4. Remove from the heat and serve.

notes/subs: The seeded jalapeno is optional if you want a medium spice level.  It is crucial to use smoked paprika and not plain paprika.  Costco sells a large container for about $4.


A little on the messy side, but I'd say it's worth it.