mastering the (t)art of rhubarb


If asparagus reigns king of the springtime vegetables, I’d like to crown rhubarb its rosy-cheeked queen. Pair the tartness of rhubarb with something sweet (as I’ve done in the following two recipes: first, a simple rhubarb sauce and second, an old-fashioned strawberry rhubarb crumble) and you’ve just about captured the taste of early summer. And as always, don’t forget to purchase your rhubarb from your local farmers market for best results.

rhubarb sauce

6-8 stalks rhubarb
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Slice rhubarb into in 1/2-inch pieces.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer uncovered until the rhubarb is soft (about 10 minutes). Add a tablespoon of tapioca pudding to thicken if needed.

Serve warm or cold over ice cream for a refreshing dessert, or with organic vanilla yogurt, homemade granola, and fresh blueberries to start your day off right (see below).

Adapted from The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook.

strawberry rhubarb crumble

2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 pound fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 stick butter at room temperature, cut into small bits

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To make the filling: Combine strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl. Add flour, crystallized ginger, and lemon juice. Stir and set aside.

To make the topping: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add butter. Using your fingers, blend the butter into the mixture until it’s crumbly and well-combined.

Transfer the filling to a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Loosely crumble topping over the filling. Bake until the filling bubbles up around the edge of the baking dish and the topping turns golden brown (30 to 35 minutes).

Serve with vanilla ice cream and love. This particular crumble was shared with my parents and grandparents, all of whom agreed to offer a personal testimonial about their experience with the dessert, in order to give you, dear readers, better insight into the dish as you consider baking one for yourself:

“Best I ever had.” – Al Hanko
“I’m a Mary Ann man, but I’m really liking ginger.” – Jan Fields (get it?)
“The ginger really adds a zip.” – Carole Fields
“It is fabulous. The ginger gives it pep and snap.” – Evelyn Hanko

A note about crystallized ginger: for those who have never cooked with it before (like me, pre-crumble), crystallized ginger is ginger root that has been dried and coated lightly in sugar. I found that not only does it pack a flavorful punch when added to the strawberry rhubarb crumble (see testimonials), it also looks entirely lovely sitting on a windowsill beside a blue Mason jar. You can buy crystallized ginger at a reasonable price at a grocery store near you.

Adapted from Food to Live By.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Elizabeth Caley says:

    you are brilliant beyond words. you inspire me, and fill my world with beauty and delight. i can’t wait to head out to my garden later today and gather up some of those hearty stalks i love so dearly, only to delve into the (t)art of rhubarb.


  2. Helen says:

    mmmmm, that looks delicious! and so colorful!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I am inspired!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I made the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble today & served it to guests. It was wonderful! Everyone loved it. Thanks for the recipe & the inspiration.

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