What’s your favorite pie? Mine is strawberry rhubarb, without a question. When it’s the season (mid spring here), and both strawberries and rhubarb are available in the market, it’s the one pie that we must make.
Do you cook with rhubarb? It looks like pinkish red celery, or the stems of really fat swiss chard. In the store you’ll only find the stems, as the green leaves are poisonous. The stems however, are tart and delicious, especially when cooked into a pie or cobbler. I know, it’s weird. Rhubarb is a vegetable that behaves like a fruit.
Rhubarb grows wild in many parts of the U.S. (not here in Sacramento unfortunately). My father remembers when he was a kid in Minnesota, picking it from the back yard and dipping the raw stems in sugar to eat, like nature’s version of a jolly rancher candy. Rhubarb loves to be paired with strawberries, in a pie, they’re BFFs. The tartness of the rhubarb just intensifies the flavor of the strawberries.
Updated from the archives. First posted 2005.
Quick cooking tapioca works well as a thickener for pies, especially strawberry rhubarb. Though if the pie is still warm when you cut it, it will be a little runny. If you don't have access to quick tapioca, you can use cornstarch as a substitute, same amount.
- 3 1/2 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Trim away and discard the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
- 2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar (depending on how tart/sweet you like your pie)
- 4 tablespoons of quick cooking ("minute") tapioca
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of orange zest
- 1 double crust pie dough recipe* for a 9 inch pie (or your favorite pie crust recipe)
(If making a 10 inch pie, or just want more filling, use 4 cups of rhubarb, 2 1/2 cups strawberries, and up to 1 1/4 cup of sugar)
*Here's my favorite pie dough recipe. In a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, a teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar. To the flour mixture add 10 Tbsp of butter that has been cut into cubes. Use your hands to squish the flour and butter together until you have what resembles a coarse meal with some pea-sized bits of butter. To this mixture add 1/2 cup sour cream. Use a fork to incorporate. Then form a large ball of dough with the mixture. Cut into two even pieces. Form each piece into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, gently combine the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange zest. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2 Roll out your pastry dough and line the bottom of a pie dish with it. Trim to 1/2 inch from the edge. Place the filling into a pastry lined pie dish. Roll out the second pastry dough and place over the pie. Trim the edges to an inch from the edge of the pie dish. Tuck the top crust edges over the bottom crust edges and use your fingers or a fork to crimp the top and bottom edges together. (If you want, for a nice glaze on your pie, use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of egg white or cream over the top of the pie.) Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.
3 Place pie on the middle rack of a 400°F oven, with a baking sheet on a lower rack to catch any juices that might spill over. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F, then reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 40-50 minutes longer (50 to 60 minutes longer if doing a 10-inch pie). The pie is done when the crust is nicely browned and the filling (that you can see through the venting holes) thick and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.