This spring I have gone a little crazy. Rhubarb-crazy.
I grew up eating rhubarb and it wasn’t much different than the other exceptionally fresh vegetables we grew in our garden or got as gifts from my grandparents’ garden. When I went to college it disappeared from my culinary life, but I really didn’t miss it. Until this April. Suddenly I couldn’t go another day without eating rhubarb. I dragged Andrés and another friend to the Union Square green market only to find potatoes and apples in the rhubarb’s stead. When the first barely pink stalks finally did appear, I took dozens home with me. And ever since I have not allowed our fridge to be lacking in rhubarb.
One of the first things I made with that rhubarb was a lovely sorbet. But I also did a lot of experimenting. I found I adore rhubarb in just about all of its incarnations, but that it’s tastiest when its natural spring tartness is allowed to shine. Stewed with white sugar was better than brown sugar. Vanilla and white wine made a better compote than red wine and cinnamon. I liked real chucks in my dishes (except that sorbet) instead of just vegetable mush. This is all a matter of personal preference of course.
My favorite incarnation of rhubarb this spring has been this dish. The rhubarb is mixed with blueberries, a slightly nontraditional accompaniment, but one that balances it nicely. The rhubarb/berry mixture is contrasted by a crisp topping of oats, walnuts, and hazelnuts (which really steal the show). So I get both tastes: fresh fruitiness and warm, comforting goodness.
Julio liked it so much he licked the entire pan and then begged for more. I kind of wanted to do the same.
Rhubarb Blueberry Crisp
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 pound rhubarb
2 cups blueberries (~11 ounces, frozen worked just fine)
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup demerara sugar (aka, sugar in the raw)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Chop rhubarb is 1/2 inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar, then add the rhubarb and blueberries and mix well. Transfer to a medium baking dish.
In a food processor, coarsely chop hazelnuts and walnuts. Add flour and oatmeal and mix in pulses (oatmeal will be partially ground but not as fine as a flour). Add sugar, salt, and butter to the processor and mix, in pulses, until butter is incorporated. Remove mixture from food processor and, if necessary, mix until dough forms a ball. Squeeze small amounts of dough and drop onto the rhubarb-blueberry mixture.
Bake the crisp in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1hr. Serve crisp warm. Lick pan (you will want to).