Is There Rehab for Rhubarb?

rhubarb crisp
You’ll hear most people, including myself, get pretty excited about various Spring seasonals such as strawberries, asparagus, and even ramps. Yes, I’ve talked (or typed, or typed and talked, rather) about all of those in previous posts. And why shouldn’t I, right? They’re all sublime in their own way. Why, right this second, if you asked me, I could name at least 20 things to make with each of the above. And whether that’s true or not, you’ll never know because you are reading what I’ve already typed, rather than talking directly to me. So there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


Speaking of smoking, I can think of one thing I’m totally cracked-out on. Well, one thing for today at least, as every day brings about a new addiction (in food terms only, most definitely. that I think about it, I am also addicted to things like vacations, sunshine, blogging and so on). And today that one thing is rhubarb. Yup, I said it. Rhu-barb. Oh yummers. If I hadn’t already cooked with it for two weekends straight, I’d re-consider it as the secret ingredient for the upcoming Iron Chef Battle. But I’ve already got that under wraps, and I’m not changin’ it no matter what. Plus, I like having these little nuggets to myself (or at least, for the two of us). Next time, I’ll buy more and freeze them. I’ve recently eliminated freezer space by eating the rest of some tasty pulled pork this week that a special someone sent me for my birthday. Move over piggies, it’s time for rhubarb!!

The first time I ever bought rhubarb was last year around this time. Kris & Jon came to visit for the weekend, and we stayed in for dinner one night. And while I can’t for the life of me remember what we had for dinner, I know I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp that we all ate on for the whole night. Meaning, between each hand of spades, hearts, or whatever card game we were playing, one of us was in the kitchen wolfing down a bite of that crisp while the others shuffled and dealt. What I also remember was Chris turning his nose up and whining, “I don’t liiiiike rhu-baaaaaaarb.” Well, that crisp sure shut him up! Now if only I could get him to like cucumbers. I also vaguely recall a rhubarb-maple fool that I made for the in-laws’ visit. But before I knew it, rhubarb season was over. I somehow felt cheated – as if I were punished for discovering rhubarb 28 years into my life. Better late than never, right? I mean, give a girl a break! That being said, I’ve been waiting for it [the new rhubarb season] ever since.

crisp mixture

And so this time, I’ve made a point to buy these pretty in pink rods during both weekend trips to the Green City Market. The strawberries were slim pickin’s by the time we made it there last week, so instead I made a crisp with rhubarb & apple which was super scrumptitious. The apples were nice and crunchy and the rhubarb just melted in your mouth. I don’t know that I’d pair rhubarb with granny smiths, but most any other apple variety will probably do – just not the tart ones unless you enjoy that scrunched up look on your face. I don’t.

For my bunch o’ rhubarb from this past weekend, I did have strawberries and whipped up some strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt. Next week though, I just don’t know what I’m gonna make. I’m thinking I might get some jars and stock up on preserves, or maybe make a tart although I’m a little tart-ed out, which should come as no surprise.

What do you think? Ya got any bright ideas over there?!

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp
Liberally adapted from various crisp recipes; Serves 6

printable recipe

1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Fuji apples, cored and diced
3 T tapioca
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 T orange zest
2 T orange juice

2/3 c all purpose flour*
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c regular oats*
1/2 t cinnamon
dash of salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes**


  1. Combine all ingredients for filling into medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes. Pour into 13×9 baking dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 375
  3. Combine all ingredients for topping except butter. Cut in butter (with hands or pastry blender) until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over filling.
  4. Bake ~30 minutes. Let sit 10 before serving.

*You can easily turn this into a gluten-free dessert by using gluten-free oats and gluten-free flour. Since you’re not using the flour to develop gluten, you won’t need other additives such as guar gum or xantham gum. Most Whole Foods stores stock both of these products, but they can also be ordered online.

**You can also make this as a dairy-free dessert by using margarine (many brands are dairy-free) or the Smart Balance spreads. I’d recommend the Smart Balance Lite over margarine any day. I’ve also heard Earth Balance brand is a good non-dairy substitute.

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