When my father was a kid growing up in Minnesota, in the summer he used to love to chew on rhubarb that grew like a weed around there, RAW. That’s right. Raw. (The stalks, not the leaves which are poisonous.) Have you ever tried biting into a piece of raw rhubarb stalk? I dare you. It’s like a hundred times more sour than a lemon (okay maybe a little exaggeration here). It’s screaming tart. It’s “what was I thinking?” tart. Anyway, rhubarb is not safe around this house. The refrigerator half life for rhubarb is a couple hours at best. This last bunch we put to work into a lovely rhubarb crumble, based on a recipe dad found in Oprah magazine (yes, I had to get over the shock of that too, my dad, reading Oprah? then again she does have good recipes). Taking a tip from The Flavor Bible, I added a touch of cardamom to the vanilla and rhubarb in the filling, rhubarb+cardamom+vanilla being one of those match-made-in-heaven flavor combinations.
Another favorite combo with rhubarb that I love is ginger and orange zest, which would also work great with this crumble. Feel free to experiment. The only thing you need to really keep an eye on is making sure you have enough sugar to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb. The ratio of rhubarb to sugar in this recipe is perfect for us, but if it ends up being too tart for you, add a little more sugar, or just eat with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or even straight cream.
Rhubarb Crumble Recipe
- 2 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), cut into cubes
1 Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the rhubarb, white sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, the vanilla extract, and the ground cardamom. Spoon into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
2 In a food processor, pulse together 1 cup of flour, the salt, and the brown sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces of butter are pea-sized. (Alternatively, mix the dry ingredients together and cut the butter in with two knives or a pastry cutter.) Spread topping mixture over rhubarb mixture.
3 Place in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for at least a half an hour before serving.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Yield: Serves 8.