At the beginning of May, I bought a handful of garnet colored rhubarb stalks at our Sunday morning farmer’s market. That afternoon, I mixed up a crisp with a strawberry rhubarb base and a pistachio crumble topping. The crisp was good, but I wasn’t in love. So I tried making it again last week when I was visiting my parents.
They live in the kind of neighborhood that has block parties and where no one locks their doors. My parents’ neighbor, Abraham, is pushing 100 years old, but he still grows roses that he shares with the neighborhood ladies and keeps up a gigantic patch of rhubarb. The rhubarb grows all along the outside of Abraham’s back fence and it’s free for the picking. The plants have slender, pale green stalks blushed with just a hint of red and huge prehistoric-looking leaves.
Old-fashioned rhubarb like Abraham’s has more flavor than the popular deep red varieties and it looks gorgeous paired up with bright red strawberries. I thought this rhubarb might be the secret ingredient for my crisp, but it wasn’t. The pistachio crumble topping still overwhelmed the strawberry/rhubarb base and the whole concoction was just too sweet.
I’ve given up on the crisp recipe for now, but yesterday I cooked up a lovely strawberry rhubarb sauce. It couldn’t be easier to make and its bright pink color is nothing short of irresistible. I’ve already tried it stirred into a bowl of Greek yogurt and spooned over angel food cake. In both cases, I sprinkled chopped, unsalted pistachios over the top of the sauce. Yum!
The Perfect Snack
Eat Cake for Breakfast!
Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Strawberries lend this sauce its luscious pink color and sweet flavor. Use small, fully red, highly fragrant berries (if you don’t have a strawberry patch at home, check out Local Harvest to find U-pick farms in your area). If you can, use stalks from an old fashioned variety of rhubarb, like ‘Victoria’ or ‘Glaskin’s Perpetual’. This sauce has just a hint of tartness. If you have a sweet tooth, decrease the brown sugar to one tablespoon and up the white sugar to a scant ½ cup.
What you’ll need:
2 cups sliced rhubarb (about 4 to 5 medium stalks)
2 ½ heaping cups of strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Pre-heat the over to 375 degrees F. Wash the rhubarb stalks and then slice them into ½ inch pieces. Carefully wash the strawberries*. Use a paring knife to core the strawberries, then slice them thinly.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the rhubarb with 2 cups of the strawberries and the remaining ingredients. Set aside for about 15 minutes or until the berries release their juices.
3. Pour the strawberry rhubarb mixture into a casserole dish and cover. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven. Give the sauce a good stir, let it cool for five or ten minutes, and then add in the remaining 1/2 cup of sliced berries. The sauce tastes good hot, cold, and at room temperature. Serve it over ice cream, pound cake, shortbread, angel food cake, or short cakes. Or stir it into your favorite yogurt.
For more rhubarb inspiration, check out the Rhubarb and Raspberry Clafoutis from La Tartine Gourmande. Béa is an amazingly gifted food stylist and cook, and her beautiful photos and charming stories always make my day!
* On a side note, the Environmental Working Group lists strawberries as one of their Dirty Dozen–a list of the top 12 most pesticide contaminated crops–which is a great reason why you should try growing some organic strawberries at home.