I am a language nerd. I spent this morning looking up why rhubarb, or rhabarber in German, is written with an h after the r. The latin word for rhubarb is rheum barbarus. Barbarus means foreign. Rheum is derived from the ancient greek rheu, and that’s where the h comes from. It indicates a certain pronunciation of the letter rho at the beginning of a word. Not that interesting? Alright. While I was looking all of this up I found some funny sentences in the book On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (highly recommended, by the way). On page 317 McGee writes that rhubarb’s “main use in the West is as a tart stand-in for fruit”. On page 367 he adds that rhubarb “often masquerates as fruit”. Both statements sound kind of mean, as if rhubarb stalks would sneak into our kitchens, drag the strawberries out of a pie and take their place only to dupe us. But I guess McGee has a point, because he also explains that rhubarb only became popular in pies and other sweet foods after sugar had become affordable. Since then it has been treated like a fruit and made palatable in desserts with tons of sweetener. But then it’s not the rhubarb that dupes us here. It’s the sugar. (See, sugar is bad.)
Last Sunday we were enjoying our last rhubarb stalks, baked into a crisp, which is basically nothing else than a very, very lazy pie. This is a simple and versatile recipe and almost every ingredient could be substituted with something else. I used coconut flour, but oat flour or even whole wheat flour would work. For the almond butter you could use any other nut butter as well. Oh, and if you don’t have rhubarb, use berries or even apples. I used a 22 cm bread pan (9-inch loaf pan) for this recipe, and that makes enough for three people. P complained that the filling wasn’t sweet enough. He’s probably right but it’s no problem to double the amount of sugar mixed with the rhubarb.
Simple Rhubarb Crisp
- 400 g 3 1/3 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup agave nectar or sugar (double for a sweeter version)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 60 g 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 50 g 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 30 g 1/4 cup coconut flour (substitute oat or whole wheat flour)
- 60 ml 1/4 cup oil
- 2 tablespoons almond butter (any nut butter is fine)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)
- Place rhubarb, cornstarch, and agave nectar in a 22 cm (9 inch) loaf pan and stir to combine.
- Combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Sprinkle on top of rhubarb.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft and the topping crispy.
- Serve warm or cold.