Spring-into-summer sweet is supremely simple

The Whole Dish podcast: Premade pie crust makes for spur-of-the-moment dessert

Singular flavors of spring, prepared simply, have been this blog’s theme for the past week.

To go with appetizers of radishes with butter and steamed artichokes, I’ll add a couldn’t-be-simpler dessert that capitalizes on a short-season specialty: rhubarb.

Chicago Tribune writer Leah Eskin calls this dish a “rustic tart.” I’ve more often called it galette or crostata. More recently, I’ve just taken to calling it “cheater pie” when prepared with refrigerated pie dough and a quick dump of rhubarb filling mixed up in a Ziploc bag. I also love to make this with frozen slices of garden rhubarb later in the year.

To atone for my pastry-making apathy (even with a food processer), I often enhance the flavors of my rhubarb tart with a splash of rosewater, maybe a sprinkle of cardamom and always freshly grated lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract. Rather than waiting several hours like Eskin suggests for the rhubarb to macerate in sugar, I just add a teaspoon or so of cornstarch to thicken the filling. I also improve the crust’s free-form appearance by brushing it in egg wash and sprinkling it with coarse sugar.

Doesn’t get much easier than this spring-into-summer sweet treat.

Tribune News Service photo

Rustic Rhubarb Tart

1 pound (about 4 stalks) fresh rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar, divided

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Pie pastry (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon butter, grated or diced

Trim the rhubarb, slice in half lengthwise and cut crosswise, on diagonal, into 1/2-inch-thick lozenges. Measure 3 1/2 cups. Toss rhubarb in a bowl with 1/2 cup of the sugar and let rest, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours at room temperature or up to 24, covered and chilled.

Drain rhubarb, discarding liquid. Toss rhubarb with the lemon zest. Heat oven to 400 F.

Roll out the pastry 1/8-inch thin and trim to a 12-inch circle. Set pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heap rhubarb onto pastry, leaving a bare border of about 2 1/2 inches. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar evenly over rhubarb. Scatter on the butter. Fold border up and over rhubarb, shaping a rustic tart with a casually pleated edge.

Slide pan into preheated oven, and bake until pastry has browned and juices thickened, for 35 to 38 minutes. Cool on a rack. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 (7-inch) tart, 4 servings.

PIE PASTRY: Measure into food processor bowl 1 cup flour, 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut up) and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until largest lumps are size of peas. Sprinkle on 4 tablespoons ice-cold water. Pulse, adding more water if needed, to damp clumps. Pat pastry into a disk. Wrap in waxed paper and chill, for at least one hour.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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