I don’t think you could possibly imagine how I agonized over what to do with my little bag of rhubarb from the farmer’s market this week. I went back and forth looking at endless recipes, I scoured the internet, even started a RHUBARB board on Pinterest…it was insane. The thing about rhubarb is that it has a wonderful tangy flavor, different from any other fruit (possibly because it’s actually a veg) and a drop dead gorgeous color that makes me crazy. But it’s not just me, rhubarb inspires passion in a lot of people. It’s is a true harbinger of spring, being one of the first crops to be harvested as the weather warms, and the season starts right about now. You’ll see hot house crops come first to market, followed by the regular harvest soon after. A lot of recipes combine rhubarb with other fruits like strawberries or peaches, but I like to use it all by itself to get the full rhubarb experience. Why mess with a great thing?
I love love love love love these bars. I know I make a lot of this type of thing on the blog and I tried to resist, I really did. And I know you see through my ruses when I call them by various names like squares, bars, snack cakes, crumble this’ and crumble thats. My only defense is that these are Faaaaah. Buuuuu. Lous. They were so good I had to break my only taste one serving of whatever I’m photographing rule. I had two. Before lunch.
These bars are lighter and more bar-like than my regular crumble squares. The rosy pink filling is flavored with vanilla…it’s basically a quick rhubarb jam. The color of your jam will vary depending on the depth of color of your rhubarb stalks, Some are green or pale pink. I always choose the deepest red stalks I can find for best color, no matter what I’m making. The simple dough is spiced with cardamom. I didn’t put that in the title because some of you are starting to think of me as the crazy cardamom blogger. That’s fair. I try not to go overboard, but it’s so hard. (I have a Cardamom board on Pinterest, too :)
This recipe is inspired by a combination of this recipe from Table for Two, this one from Kitchen Vignettes and this one from Rachel Cooks. Each one has a slightly different ‘take’ on the concept. I say give them all a try!
- 1 lb rhubarb
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (you can substitute cinnamon)
- 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter. cut in pieces
- Set oven to 350F
- Rinse and trim the ends off the rhubarb stalks. Slice them in 1 inch pieces and put in a heavy pot. Toss with the sugar, lemon juice, and water. Stirring constantly, bring the mix to a boil and cook until the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture is thick. Add a little more water if needed as it cooks if it gets too thick. This will take about 20 minutes or so. You can puree it if you want a smooth texture, I used an immersion blender and pulsed a few times to get any larger lumps, but some texture is fine. Stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.
- To make the crust, put the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the butter and pulse until the mix has a texture of coarse crumbs.
- Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and press the rest into a buttered 9x13 baking pan. Pat down the crust and level it out.
- Spread the filling evenly over the crust, and then crumble the remaining dough over the filling.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
- Cool before cutting.
Love rhubarb? Come check out my PINTEREST board and follow along, I’ve got the definitive collection of rhubarb recipes…everything from classic jam and pie to rhubarb cocktails, salsa, and barbecue sauce. (I’m obsessed) And feel free to leave your favorite rhubarb recipe link in the comments!