rhubarb: friend, or best friend?

there comes a point every march or april that i can remember accounting, “oh, spring must be here!”. i love spring and fall, because they are transitional seasons. although they are just short seasons and small blips on the radar compared to winter and summer, they bring the most refreshing feeling, along with fresh and fun flavors. i had one of these “moments” last week, and knew instinctively that it was time for rhubarb to be easily available in the stores now. i began to crave the tart, sweet fruits that spring brings in. i had to have rhubarb. so i went directly to our local whole foods market and bought exactly one pound.

i came home, and while dinner was in the skillet, whipped up an amazing, fast, and simple rhubarb crisp. mr. hare hasn’t had much experience eating rhubarb, so i knew i had to impress him so he wasn’t turned off forever. i have been a lover of rhubarb since i can remember, and either my mom or dad makes a really great rhubarb crisp. i’m not sure who makes it because it’s one of those things that was jus always in the kitchen when i was living there. we just always had one sitting around, like a staple. i remember it always tasting very tart, with just the right amount of sweet. i also remember being surprised that there was never the telltale pool of pink juice sitting at the bottom. i was a lucky kid!

it’s a feel good food, with some fine health benefits, too. it contains a nice amount of fiber, and when applied topically, inhibits the growth of staphylococcus aureus. it is also being studied for it’s ability to aid in digestion, and properties keeping bacteria in the gut healthy. be careful, though, because the leaves of the plant are toxic. they probably don’t taste very great, anyhow.

i didn’t have a family recipe to share with brian, so i used my brand new book, “jamie at home” that the easter bunny dropped off early. i love this book. i love the simple philosophy behind it, not to mention the beautiful photography. -but there is too much for me to rave about now, so i will fill more in on it later. i didn’t follow his exact recipe, i just followed the basics for a solid start. it turned out amazing. i think i liked it more than any other sweet i have ever prepared., and that includes the peanut butter chocolate cupcakes, the banana bread, the pound cake, the brownies, and any cookie. this was my favorite. i’m not sure that there was anything specific that made it particularly outstanding. you can tell from the photos that the vegetable didn’t give out too much watery juice. what you can’t tell from the photos, is that the topping was perfectly crisp, and the rhubarb not stringy or overly tender. i’m not sure that those are the things that made it so good. i just think that, combined with my new spring recharge and the new fresh clean foods, everything just seemed to come together perfectly.

so without further wait, i introduce the rhubarb crisp.

*note that i made a large (1 lb) batch of rhubarb, and used only half of the prepared mixture for crisps, then reserved the rest for fun weekend treats. you can also use a fruit juice instead of applesauce if you wish, and can add brown sugar to sweeten filling if you need more sweet.

rhubarb crisp

serves 2

filling

1 lb raw cleaned rhubarb, chopped into 1″ chunks

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

3 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

pinch of salt

1/4 cup slivered raw almonds

preheat oven to 400f. combine rhubarb, applesauce, and sugar in large pot over medium heat with lid on. cook for 5 minutes, stir, and remove lid. cook until rhubarb is just tender, then remove from heat, and let sit with lid off for a few minutes. prepare oat topping by mixing oats, flour, cinnamon, applesauce, salt, and honey until well combined. add in almonds. you can add more honey if you like a sweeter topping.

fill 2 oven-to-table single serving ramekins or small oven safe mugs with rhubarb. reserve the rest of the rhubarb in refrigerator. top ramekins with oat mixture, then sprinkle with the brown sugar. bake for 20-30 minutes, or until topping is a nice crunchy brown, and rhubarb is just bubbling up the sides of the dish. just look at that beautiful thing!

let cool off before serving. enjoy!

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