My neighbor asked me the other day if I wanted some rhubarb. He started to explain how it’s growing by the side of their house and that they have too much, blah, blah, blah…I stopped listening after the initial question of “do you want some?” All I could hear in my head was “pie.”
If you’re just now tuning in and are unfamiliar with my love and devotion to all things pie related, click here and get better acquainted. I use a pre-made crust (sacrilege to many, I know) because I can’t afford to fly my mom in from California every week, and quite frankly, it saves a siginificant amount of time.
Rhubarb is probably one of the few, if not only, types of pie that I had never tried before. Those long green and red stalks look so intimidating to me, and somewhere along the road I had heard that they’re tough and bitter. I didn’t even know whether rhubarb is a fruit or vegetable? (Turns out it’s a vegetable. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – nobody ever shied away from carrot cake or zucchini bread, right?) Drown anything in sugar and how bad can it be? I don’t even know of any other use for rhubarb, other than in a pie. It’s like it grows just for that purpose!
So there I stood, rhubarb in hand, knowing that millions of pie bakers and pie eaters can’t be wrong.
I started surfing the internet for recipes and everything I found had a lattice top. Ugh. Too much work. I decided to use a crumble topping that I have for a different recipe. Once that was decided, I had to choose between the plethora of filling options; some included orange zest, some used brown sugar, some used cinnamon, some incorporated eggs, etc. I took what I liked from each one and sort of made my own (something I never do with baking.) I also liked the idea of using half the rhubarb called for, and substituting strawberries for the other half (which seems to be a popular combination.)
Results? Not too sweet, not too tart. Just right. YUMMY. I was also pleasantly surprised how fast and simple this was to prepare.
The pie only lasted two days.
Then two weeks later, my neighbor came knocking again and asked if I wanted more. Twist my arm. And what great timing (not that there’s ever a bad time for pie), since my sister and brother-in-law were visiting. Surely they wouldn’t protest to pie.
He didn’t give me as much rhubarb this time, so I flip-flopped the rhubarb and strawberry amounts, adding more strawberries. This version was sweeter, but not necessarily better. Just a different kind of yummy.
With two extra people, this pie only lasted a day. Sigh.
I’m confident that my neighbor will be back, though. And if not, I know where he lives…
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
• 1 deep-dish 9 inch prepared pie crust
• 4 cups (about 1 1/4 pounds) rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
• 2 cups strawberries, quartered
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon of salt
• 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the crumble topping – in a medium bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Work in the butter with your hands, until large moist clumps form. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in lowest level. In a large bowl, toss rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into pie shell; sprinkle with Crumble Topping. Place pie on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Place pie in oven; reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until topping is browned and crust is lightly browned, about 1 1/2 hours. (If topping or crust begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.) Cool completely before serving.