My mom is the kind of person who, after an extended weekend away in Wisconsin, returns home with gifts – individually wrapped caramels thrown in a white paper bag, a matching sugar bowl and creamer set to go with your favorite teapot, a cookbook, and a bunch of rhubarb, picked fresh from the garden.
For this and many other reasons, I love this woman.
The closest I’ve come to growing my own rhubarb – beyond, I suppose, the minimal green thumb required for growing tomato plants –is pulling the leafy stalks out of the ground in someone else’s yard, while being told exactly how not to use the “fruit” that is actually a vegetable.
The leafy parts are poisonous, but the reddish-pink stalks are tall and celery-like, easy to chop and turn into filling for pies, yeast breads, and crisps.
Combined with enough sugar to balance its strong tartness, rhubarb is absolutely delicious.
I love it. In fact, if you ask me to come over for a slice of fresh rhubarb anything, anytime, the answer will always be yes.
In a good slice of pie, a compote, or a pastry, the tangy flavor is something I’m powerless against. Hot and fragrant, pulled fresh from the oven, sliced and topped with vanilla ice cream, rhubarb desserts are one of the best and most delicious things that I like to eat.
And that’s essentially what I was after with the berry crumble I made last weekend. But something was missing…
An adaptation of a recipe from Jamie Oliver, this rhubarb crumble is simple – combine your ingredients, some over the stove and some in a bowl, layer them together, and bake.
It’s supposed to emerge golden and crisp, but this didn’t exactly work with mine (it never quite browned on top). But the flavorful underlying fruit mixture made up for that.
On the stovetop and then in the oven, the berries and rhubarb become softer, more compote-like, the perfect complement to the crunchier oatmeal-based topping.
The day after I made this, I came home from a morning comprised of brunch, a doctor’s appointment, antiquing, and a stop at the thrift store. I fixed myself a big bowl of rhubarb crumble, reheated quickly in the microwave and topped with vanilla ice cream.
After this, I pulled last year’s swimsuit out of storage, grabbed a beach towel and a book, walked out onto a grassy space, and soaked up the sunshine, with fluffy clouds rolling by overhead.
It was pure bliss.Print
Enjoy rhubarb paired with fresh strawberries in this easy-to-make crumble, the perfect homemade spring or summer dessert.
- 1 pound rhubarb, cut into chunks
- 1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
- pinch salt
- 1 small orange, (about 1 tbsp zest and 3 tbsp juice)
- 1 pound strawberries, halved
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
- 1 1/3 cup rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a medium saucepan, combine chopped rhubarb, ½ cup packed brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and the orange zest and juice. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, butter, and remaining brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the oats and toss with your fingers to distribute evenly.
- Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish. Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture over the rhubarb. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is brown and fragrant.
- Serve straight from the oven with vanilla ice cream on top.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut off the tops of the strawberries and discard. Halve all of the strawberries and set aside.
Zest the orange with a zester or microplane, and then cut it in half and juice it. Make sure you remove or strain out any seeds!
Cut the chilled butter into small 1/2-inch cubes, and keep cold in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Measure out the remaining ingredients so you will have them ready once you start assembling the crumble.
Step 2 – Cook the Filling
Add all of the filling ingredients except the strawberries to a medium saucepan.
Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries. Set aside.
Step 3 – Make the Crumble Topping
Add all of the crumble topping ingredients to a large bowl.
Cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
You can do this with a pastry cutter, but if you don’t have one, simply use two knives to cut the butter in.
Step 4 – Assemble the Crumble
Carefully pour the filling into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture over the top.
Make sure to spread it evenly, so you’ll get to enjoy some of the crunchy topping with every bite.
Step 5 – Bake
Bake the crumble for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.
A baking sheet placed beneath the pan can help to catch any, drips, if your crumble bubbles over.
If you notice the topping is browning too much in one area, you can cover that part with a bit of foil for the remainder of the bake time. But rotating should help to prevent this.
Once the sauce is bubbling and the topping is browned, it’s ready to serve.
Remove from the oven. Serve in bowls with a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream on top for added creamy richness.
Celebrating Seasonal Produce
Rhubarb is one of those produce items that we seem to wait all year for, and the window of time in which it is in season is extremely short in comparison to other members of the produce world.
When it’s cooked, the stalky vegetable becomes tender, tart, tangy, and slightly sweet, making it an excellent base for this crumble when combined with strawberries. The flavors of each lend themselves naturally to each other, and strawberries are one of the best fruits to combine with rhubarb to really bring out its natural flavors.
If you love this combination, be sure to check out this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for a made-from-scratch dessert that would make even Grandma jealous. The homemade pie crust base, the fresh fruit filling, and the stunning lattice top make it a fantastic dessert for a picnic, or whenever you really want to impress your friends and family.
What’s your favorite way to use rhubarb when it’s in season? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate this recipe when you make it.
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Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 1st, 2009. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 5:12 am with additional writing by Meghan Bassett.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.