I’ve been hunting for rhubarb for weeks. Rhubarb comes into season mid to late spring, and I started caving it at the end of March. You can imagine how disappointing it’s been, scouring my local markets and grocery stores a few times a week for those vibrant red stalks, only to come out empty handed.
I’m so in love with rhubarb and it’s strong, sweet, slightly bitter and tangy taste. My favourite pie growing up was raspberry rhubarb, so my obsession with the vegetable started at a young age.
A few weeks ago, Finn posted a Strawberry Rhubarb Granita that made me squeal with glee. She found some rhubarb! I must know where! I promptly messaged her in a calm, collected manner (aka “WHERE DID YOU FIND YOUR RHUBARB!?!”) and she replied, simply: “I grew it :)”
I hated her then, for a fleeting moment. Damn you Finn, with your house and your garden and your self-grown veggies and plentiful bounty.
My hatred quickly turned to admiration, because hey, how cool is it to grow your own rhubarb? It’s a definite life goal of mine to have a patio/yard space big enough to have a little garden.
I lack a green thumb, though, having more of a red one when it comes to growing things. Even cactuses are known to die within days of coming into my possession. I’m not sure why, but it’s difficult for me to keep plants and flowers alive.
But I like to think, if I was growing fruits and veggies – actual things I could eat and use – that I’d be a bit better at it. Maybe it would be motivation enough to give the plants a bit more TLC. Nurturing flowers is one thing, but nurturing a plant that grows actual food is another.
So maybe one day, when I have space for a garden, my red thumb will turn into a green one and I’ll be able to grow my own rhubarb early in the season. Until then, I’ll just have to hunt it down (and pay way too much for it, even though the taste is worth it).
Once I found some rhubarb, I debated on what to make with it. I knew it needed to be something baked, something comforting, something that would be eaten warm, possibly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I decided on these bars. They’re kind of like date bars, but with a sweet and tart rhubarb compote in the centre
The crust is flakey and crumbly, flecked with crunchy almonds, hearty oats, and ground cinnamon. I upped the anti a bit by using brown butter rather than regular, which amplified and deepened the nutty flavour of the crust.
If you’ve never browned butter before, I highly recommend it. I had never tried it before, but the internet’s latest obsession proves pretty darn tasty. It takes about 10 minutes to brown the butter (see a how-to here) and it really amplifies the flavour when used in baking.
Once the butter has browned, the base/crust is simple enough to make; combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and then drizzle the melted butter over top. Mix with your hands until the mixture becomes course and crumbly. It may seem a bit dry, but that’s okay. Reserve about 1/3 of the mixture to use as the topping, and use the remaining 2/3 as the “crust”, pressing it firmly into the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Then, make the filling. Dissolve the sugar and vanilla in water in a skillet over medium heat, then add the rhubarb, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still slightly chunky. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, to thicken, and then pour the mixture onto the crust, spreading it evenly. Top with the reserved crust mixture, and bake for 35-40 minutes until your house smells amazing and the top is slightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting.
|Brown Butter Rhubarb & Almond Oatmeal Bars|| |
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups rhubarb, diced in 1-inch pieces
- 2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325°. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes until butter has turned a dark shade of brown. Be sure to keep an eye on this process, as the butter could burn easily. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed. Drizzle melted brown butter over flour mixture and stir until mixture turns course and crumbly. Remove about ⅓ of the mixture and set aside (this will be the topping) and transfer the remaining ⅔ of oat mixture to prepared baking pan, pressing down onto the bottom of the pan to form a "crust".
- To prepare filling, combine water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb to pan, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes until the mixture is tender but still chunky. Whisk in a bit of cornstarch to thicken, if desired.
- Pour the rhubarb mixture over the prepared crust, then sprinkle the reserved oat mixture on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden brown, then cool completely on a wire rack.