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Strawberry-rhubarb crisp with oatmeal streusel

June 17, 2009

I wish I could say this was my first try with rhubarb. I wish. O, how I wish. I really wish I could say that.

And that it wasn’t true that I’ve purchased rhubarb roughly 20+ times with only the best intentions. Always best intentions. Only to end up with graying, flaccid rhubarb stalks that add a burst of color to the compost pile.

But it’s one of those items that I just resist buying at every single farmers market I go to (which is a whole hell of a lot). Maybe there’s rhubarb at the grocery store, but I’ve never noticed it.

I’ve also – bef0re this recipe – never eaten it.

On a table at the farmers market, it just stands out to me. It looks unusual, the green parts apparently can make you reallllllly sick, and most people I know with a real love of rhubarb only discovered it because it was growing weed-like in their back yard.

So I buy it. Totally confident that I’ll come across tons of awesome recipes, easy to make and totally inspirational, and would then make something spring-timey and delicious. I did. And I didn’t.

But this time, I had 2 pints of strawberries on my side. My CSA is a little strawberry-happy. You need ’em, I got ’em. And I can’t stand the idea of letting these go bad. Almost as much as I couldn’t stand the idea of having to go back to the store for additional ingredients to use up my rhubarb and strawberries.

And more over, my culinary mastermind dear friend Vanessa…she’s kinda made it a challenge.

Finding a recipe with strawberries and rhubarb – easy as pie.

Finding one comprised solely of the staples I happen to in my cabinets – not so hard, either. And that’s not a testament to me having well stocked cabinets (ha! I wish!). It was more that strawberries & rhubarb? They apparently go together in a way that has inspired a lot of peoples to write incredibly easy and awesome recipes so that people like me don’t end up composting this incredibly beautiful and easy to work with fruit.

The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes to put together and get in the oven, with the longest part being slicing the strawberries. I mixed together sugar, little bit of flour, and a lot more cinnamon than mentioned in the recipe. I’m a cinnamon fan, and it tasted great. As far as I can tell, adding as little or as much cinnamon as you’re inclined has no material effect, so do what you feel.

I tossed the strawberries and rhubarb, did a little dance because I was actually using my rhubarb! and then let everything sit to make itself a nice lil syrup. And then I got bored of letting it sit, and figured it’d technically *be* sitting if I just dumped it into the pie pan.

The topping was just as easy. Sugars, flour, salt, oats, and another generous helping of cinnamon went into the bowl and quickly mixed together. I cut my stick of softened 1″ pieces of butter in using a fork, less because I didn’t want to get my hands dirty and more because a few of my acrylic nails are still on from my brother-in-law’s wedding and I hate trying to scrape dough out from under them.

And then the topping went on top, everything went into the oven, and that was it. I barely even had to check this guy after I became at ease with the fact that the filling was going to bubble. And, um, rhubarb? AMAZING.

Strawberry-rhubarb crisp with oatmeal streusel
Adapted from the Chicago Sun Times
with some subtle inspiration from Umamigirl

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh rhubarb, 1/2-inch pieces

Topping
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ‘old-fashioned’ oats – the ones with the Quaker on the from worked fine!
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into 1″ pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter a 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, start the filling by mixing the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add strawberries and rhubarb, and toss to coat with sugar mixture. Let stand for a few minutes to allow sugar crystals to dissolve in fruit juice. Place fruit in pie dish.

In same bowl, start your topping by mixing sugars, flour, salt, oats and cinnamon together. Cut softened butter into 1-inch pieces and work into sugar and flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. I did this using a fork to mush the butter into the the topping mix. Once you have a crumbly, damp sand look/feel to your topping, spoon evenly over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is tender, about 25 minutes – don’t get scared off when the filling starts to bubble.

Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

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