A warm winter is quickly fading into an early spring, and this summer promises to be a lush and productive gardening season. But no matter if winter comes back for a quick last frigid bite, or if summer comes early with an abundance of sunshine and warmth, there are a few fruits and veggies that can be counted on despite the fickle seasons. One of the most dependable forms of perennial produce is rhubarb: that visually striking, delicious, but oft-forgotten vegetable. Frequently mistaken as a fruit, rhubarb can add a bold flavor throughout the seasons, as it is ready far before most other fruits and veggies of the warm months.
Some find rhubarb too bitter to enjoy without a boatload of sugar to take the edge off, but there’s an easy alternative to sweeten this delicious veggie and incorporate it into your spring picnics and summer barbeques. Clara Silverstein explains, “One way to cut down on (but not eliminate) the sugar required to draw out rhubarb’s deliciousness is to simmer chunks of it with sweet strawberries. Rhubarb lasts a while and is often around when the first strawberries appear.” Ms. Silverstein is the author of “A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family for Your Family” (http://www.redrockpress.com/delicious.html#whiteHouseCookbook), which includes an amazing recipe for Rhubarb Pie (featured below).
Rhubarb is one of the vegetables grown in the White House Garden, which was massively expanded when the Obamas moved into the White House. Our First Lady, Michelle, took it upon herself to set an example to the country and to kids across the 50 states and beyond to promote healthy eating by bringing us back to basics: good, clean, and healthy food that’s locally grown. As kids and teachers attest throughout “A White House Garden Cookbook,” bringing children into the fold in growing and harvesting of fruits and veggies, or just helping to pick them out at the grocery store or farmer’s market, promotes pride in kids and makes them a lot more likely to not only try new dishes but love them as well.
To celebrate this perennial beauty, sometimes called “pink celery,” Red Rock Press is offering up the following Rhubarb Pie recipe from “A White House Garden Cookbook,” originally contributed by Gaining Ground in Concord, MA, an organic garden that grows and distributes approximately 20,000 pounds of produce each year. In addition, Red Rock Press is making the book available for an amazing 40% off when readers go to www.redrockpress.com/delicious.html#whiteHouseCookbook. The deluxe paperback as well as the new E-book can also be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iTunes store; and young chefs and their families can also find the paperback at your local bookstore. Enjoy spring and bon appétit!
Rhubarb Pie Makes 1 9-inch pie
Crust (makes 2 9-inch crusts):
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, preferably
- Kosher (see note on next page)
- 3 cups ½-inch pieces of rhubarb
- 1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
- 1 cup sugar, or to taste
- ¼ cup small pearl tapioca, such as Minute brand
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the crust:
1. Using a sharp knife on a cutting board, cut the butter into small squares. Place it in a bowl and return it to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow it to firm up again.
2. Fill a measuring cup with ½ cup of water. Add ice cubes to keep the water very cold.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the chilled butter. Toss it with a fork so that each piece of butter becomes coated. With a pastry cutter or your clean hands, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
4. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time and stir the mixture with a fork until the dough comes together. You may not need the entire ½ cup of ice water.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl and separate it into two equal-sized pieces. Form each piece into a disk. With the heel of your hand, gently press on the dough to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated.
6. Wrap each disk of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until ready to roll out for your pie.
For the filling:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a bowl, place the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and tapioca. Stir and let sit for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. In the meantime, on a clean work surface, roll out one of the dough disks to about 10 inches in diameter. Gently fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Cut off any dough that hangs over the sides of the pan. Roll out the other disk and cut it into strips about ½ inch wide for making a lattice crust (a lattice allows moisture to escape so the pie won’t be runny).
4. In a small bowl, beat the egg. Stir it into the rhubarb mixture, then pour the rhubarb mixture into the pie plate. Cut the butter into small pieces. Sprinkle the top of the filling with the flour, then dot with the butter.
5. Place half the strips of crust across the top of the pie, then weave the other half through. Or put half the strips across the pie vertically, and half across horizontally. Attach the end of each strip by pressing it against the bottom crust and pinching it together.
6. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees. Continue baking for at least 45 minutes, until the crust is brown and the fruit is bubbling hot. As it cools, the juices will firm up.
Note: Kosher salt is a coarser grind of salt than regular salt, with a cleaner flavor because it is not iodized. If you can’t find it, use regular salt.
–– from the “Gaining Ground Table”