Spring weather is finally here and I couldn't be happier after a seemingly long winter. Amazing spring and summer vegetables are not far behind. A good indication is rhubarb, which appears in early spring and is available into the summer. It's just becoming available in many markets. I love the vegetable—and yes, it is a vegetable. Rhubarb can make a fine accompaniment as a savory side dish, but it's most well known used like a fruit in pies, crumbles, crisps, etc. Most of the time it's combined with berries to tame its tartness, but I enjoy it on its own as the feature of the dessert.
Since rhubarb is rather astringent, I use lots of sugar in the filling. As the rhubarb bakes, its high pectin content causes it to gel very nicely with the sugar. Watch the syrupy mixture bubble up through the crispy topping of oats and nuts. This rhubarb crisp can be enjoyed in many ways, either warm, at room temperature, or chilled. I like it just slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting into the topping. This dessert is the most colorful way to welcome and enjoy spring.
for the filling:
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
for the topping:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
For the filling, combine rhubarb, sugar, and flour in an 3-quart baking dish. Let macerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
For the topping, combine flour, oats, sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and butter in a large bowl. Work dry ingredients with fingers until all butter is absorbed.
Spread topping over rhubarb. Bake crisp until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.