Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

The Spring Song in Vermont!

When the rhubarb hits the farm stands, you know the first strawberries will be close behind. The two spring treasures are a perfect balancing act – the berries sweet and vibrant, the rhubarb tart and sour. The good news is that both the strawberries and the rhubarb freeze beautifully, so there is no excuse not to serve local all winter long. This recipe is on the tart side, with minimal sugar. I must take after my mother for this; she liked to eat rhubarb raw, with a little salt sprinkled on top. If you like things sweeter, add an additional quarter cup to the fruits, and a few extra tablespoons to the topping.

For the Filling:

1 quart of sliced rhubarb, ½-inch cuts

1 quart of strawberries, cleaned, sliced

½ cup of white sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

A large pinch of salt

The zest of one lemon

The juice of one large lemon, about ¼ cup

2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Topping:

1 cup of old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups unbleached white flour

½ cup white sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

A large pinch of salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish, the 8” X 13” Pyrex dish I stole from my mother’s kitchen is perfect (you probably have one).

Place the fruits in the baking dish and add the other filling ingredients. Mix well.

With a wooden spoon, or in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment (easiest), combine the topping ingredients and mix until it becomes a unified mass. Most recipes for toppings for a crisp tell you to just barely mix the topping ingredients with the butter until it looks like coarse meal or peas, and sprinkle over all. But if you do this, the topping won’t get really crispy. You need the butter to marry with all the other ingredients. You want it to look like stiff cookie dough.

Drop by heaping spoonsful on top of the fruit, trying to cover most of it, but breaking it up so it is not uniform. Bake for about an hour, check at 50 minutes and rotate the pan, front to back, if it is browning unevenly.

Let cool to warm before serving, if you can wait that long, and top with whipped cream if desired. If you have your grandmother’s dessert dishes from the Depression, use those of course!