Just look what I discovered taking over the garden when I returned from my travels - Rhubarb! I love this stuff but I've discovered over the years that when I mention it people either love it, hate it or have never heard of it. My Aunt Sissy called it pie plant and we always looked forward to the rhubarb as the first spring plant from the garden that we could harvest and make into something yummy. Perhaps your only encounter with rhubarb has been with the ubiquitous strawberry rhubarb jam which is actually my least favorite way to eat rhubarb. I like my rhubarb on the tart side and I detest the addition of strawberry jello in anything so most SR jam recipes leave me cold.
You can see the gorgeous red of the stalks is only skin deep and the color disappears when they're cooked so if you see rhubarb desserts that are pink or red you can bet that food coloring or some other fruit has been added. This is not necessarily a bad thing just wanted you to know.
This is what I chose to make with my first rhubarb of the season. Delicious Rhubarb Crumb Bars. Crunchy on the top and bottom with a sweet tart rhubarb filling. Since I also picked up fresh strawberries from a roadside stand on the drive home I decided to top my bars off with sweet chopped strawberry goodness. Perfect! You can eat yours plain or with ice cream.
Rhubarb Crumb Bars makes 20-24
recipe adapted from Favorite Recipes From Quilters by Louise Stoltzfus
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar (depending on how sour your rhubarb is and how tart you like it you may need more sugar, you should give it a taste after it’s cooked for a bit and adjust the sugar accordingly.)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crust: Combine all ingredients until crumbly. I used my food processor. Be sure that your butter is really cold in this step. No need to make the crumbs too fine the size of small peas is about right but if they end up smaller don’t fret. You could even use your hands and rub the butter into the dry ingredients in this step.
Pat half of crust mixture into lightly greased 13x9" baking pan (I use cooking spray for this step) and reserve the rest for the top.
In saucepan combine rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and water.
Cook over medium low heat until juices form and filling starts to thicken.
Blend in vanilla.
Pour over crust.
Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes.
Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the whipped cream!
Until next time,