I saw rhubarb stalks in the produce aisle this weekend and I wanted to shout, “are you KIDDING me?” Rhubarb means spring—spring in February! Well, that would fit with all the other signs around here: cherry and plum trees that have already blossomed out; magnolia and dogwood flowers bursting like giant pink and white popcorn; everybody headed to the beach rather than the mountains for “ski” week. Not wanting to portray Californians as spoiled rotten (though we are), I checked in with Jane in Chicago. Early spring there? You betcha. And New York? I see you have 50s forecast for this week. Maybe even snow-soaked Seattle is seeing the light of spring. I don’t know if this means there’s rhubarb in your markets too, but I suspect there will be soon. So throw it in a crisp with its predictable partner, strawberries, rather than in a pie. Easier and quicker to make. You see, I’m sort of in a hurry because I just heard fog horns outside my window, which means summer is on the way to San Francisco.
PS…This is hugely delicious with a scoop of Greek yogurt ice cream.
butter for greasing dish
2 pounds strawberries
1 pound rhubarb (see note)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 11×7-inch baking or gratin dish or other shallow 2-quart baking dish. Rinse the strawberries and pat them dry (or they get watery). Hull berries and cut them into quarters or halves, depending on how large they are. Dice the rhubarb. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, flour and pinch salt. Stir gently until fruit is coated with the dry ingredients. Spread mixture in the greased baking dish.
For the topping, in a smaller bowl with a fork, mash the butter, oats, brown sugar, flour and ground ginger until the mixture is lumpy. With you fingers, scatter topping over the fruit, covering the surface as much as possible. Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the topping looks golden and crispy, about 50 minutes. Let stand at least 30 minutes to firm up a bit, then serve warm or at room temperature (or cold the next day for breakfast!), with ice cream or whipped cream if you want.
note: rhubarb is usually sold in grocery stores without the leaves because the leaves can be toxic if eaten in quantity. If you buy rhubarb at the farmers’ market or you grow it, be sure to trim off the leaves. Cut up the stalks like celery, into thin strips lengthwise then crosswise into dice.