Rhubarb is a perennial with edible, celery-like stalks. It is important to know that you should only ever eat, or cook with the stalks of rhubarb as its leaves contain high concentrations of oxalic. This lovely plant has been dubbed the "pieplant," because the stalks soften beautifully when cooked or baked, and make a divine pie filling.
If you've never heard of rhubarb, here are some basics:
When is rhubarb in Season? Rhubarb can be found from late winter to early spring with a peak season from April to June.
What should I look for? Thin, red, crisp stalks have the best texture. Also try to avoid a stalk that has been bruised, or is browned. If the stalks are floppy, they may be nearing their end. Ultimately, they should feel and look like a reddened celery.
How so I store rhubarb? We like to buy rhubarb fresh and use it as soon as possible. However, if you choose to store it for a bit, make sure to wrap in plastic and refrigerate, it can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to one week.
How to prep rhubarb: As with all fruits and vegetables, you should rinse rhubarb well. Next, trim the bottoms and tops (just as you would with celery). If there are any leaves, slice off and discard. If the stalks are stringy, remove with a small paring knife.
How to cook: Rhubarb is fairly tart. As such it should always be cooked with a sweetener. Typically it i boiled down with sugar and water, then added to jams to pies, but you can also bake it and toss it with honey.
We love rhubarb for its tartness. It's the perfect balance to the sweet of a strawberry, and together, they make a great summer dessert! We've included the pie crust recipe below for those of you daring enough to try it! For this one, we decided to go with a pre-made crust as we were in a bit of a pinch for time. Here's what you need to make it.
For the Crust:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 10 tablespoons (about) ice water
For the Filling:
- 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb
- 3 1/2 cups of strawberries, hulled and sliced or halved (about one 16-ounce container that you can find at just about any grocer)
- 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
- 1 teaspoon water
For the Crust:
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in processor.
- Cut in shortening and butter, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms.
- Blend in enough water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. It should start to look more like dough now.
- Once fully blended, gather the dough into ball and cut it in half.
- Flatten each half into circle.
- Wrap them separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, or for about 1 hour.
- Tip: you can make this a day ahead if needed. Just keep it chilled and allow the dough to soften to room temperature before attempting to roll it out.
For the Filling:
- Remove both ends of the rhubarb first. Then chop it up into about 1/2 inch pieces.
- Core and slice your strawberries as desires (halved or sliced finer).
- Next, put the rhubarb into a medium sized sauce pan and add sugar. It will need to set in the sugar for about 2 hours.
- When you have about 10 minutes left, pre-heat the over to 350 degrees F.
- Combine corn starch and water in a medium sized bowl, whisk until it has a smooth consistency.
- Add sliced strawberries to the bowl with the corn starch mixture. Stir with a large spoon to coat the strawberries.
- Fold strawberries and corn starch mixture into the pot containing the rhubarb and sugar.
- Place the pot with strawberry rhubarb contents on the stove and cook for about 25 minutes at a medium heat. It should bubble a bit, but only barely - you don't want it to burn!
- The strawberry rhubarb mixture should begin to take on a sauce-like appearance. When it's nearly finished cooking, it should coat the back of a spoon fairly thickly.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- While the mixture is cooling, roll out your dough and place one into your pie pan. (Try this gorgeous Ruffled Pie Dish!) Press the pie dough into the pie dish to make sure it is nice and snug for the filling.
- Spoon the filling into the base pie crust.
- Place the other pie dough on a cutting board and carefully cut it into about 10 or so straight lines.
- Now the fun part! For the latticing, Lay about half the strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, and lay a horizontal strip across the center of the pie. Unfold folded strips, then fold back remaining strips. Lay another horizontal strip across pie. Repeat folding and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern. Repeat on remaining side.
- Whisk the egg yolk and teaspoon of water, then brush the glaze over crust (this is what gives it its golden brown look!)
- Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.