Food: Slice into spring and summer with Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kimberly Thompson PHOTO CREDIT: JEFF SAMPSON Contributed

The weather is getting warmer, and I am already planning meals that incorporate the produce that this time of year has to offer.

One of my favorite vegetables to cook into sweet sauces, desserts, or just eat raw with a sprinkling of salt, is rhubarb.

While visiting any old farmstead, you are almost certain to see this special plant.

When I think of rhubarb, there is no other way to describe it other than sustainable. What else would you call a vegetable that will maintain itself for the next 50 years without human interference or maintenance, and in most cases, be producing long after a house has fallen?

Growing up, my grandmother loved making rhubarb strawberry crisp from the rhubarb plants that grew in the same garden spot forever. Aren’t we lucky that rhubarb and strawberry season overlap, and we can benefit from both in one delicious dish?

I’ve been making my grandmother’s rhubarb strawberry crisp for years. The recipe is easy, beautiful and a perfect way to enjoy a spring or summer day.

The only change that I’ve made is I’ve added orange liqueur, which really seems to enhance the flavor.

I recommend serving the crisp with vanilla ice cream, but if you like a little more pucker power, add just a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

• 4 cups diced rhubarb

• 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled (and halved, if large)

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 2 tsp. orange zest

• 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

• ¼ cup orange liqueur

(I recommend Grand Marnier or Cointreau)

• 10 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ pieces

• 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup light brown sugar

• Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, ¾ cup of sugar, orange zest, cornstarch and orange liqueur, and toss to combine. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 Tbsp. of butter and transfer the fruit mixture to the prepared baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 9 tbsp. of butter, flour, remaining ¼ cup of sugar, brown sugar and salt, and cut together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit, and bake until the topping is golden brown and crispy, with the fruit bubbly in places, about 45 minutes.

Kimberly Thompson is the owner of The Grateful Gourmet in Galena, Ill.

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