Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rhubarb Crumble (vegan, nut-free)

You can't escape late spring without a rhubarb recipe. It is a crowning first fruit (or vegetable) of the season and it would be wrong of me not to share. Seriously though, if you have not tried a rhubarb recipe, you must see if you still have local fresh rhubarb available and buy it. It is the first week of June and there is still plenty to be found here in Michigan, and if you are lucky you may even have some growing expectantly in your backyard. It may look mean and scary....and it may be tart if you bite into it, but with a little lovin' and care it can turn into a great treat. I love how real food is so nutrient dense and can be a dessert.

Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but is most of the time thought to be a fruit because of it's use in pies. It nickname is the 'pie plant' because that is what it seems to be used for best. It is much like the tartness of cranberries and with a little added fruit juices, honey or 'sweeteners' it is a yummy sweet/sour combo. A few years ago I was buying vegetables that I have not tried before and rhubarb was one of them. I think I may have tried it before as a kid not really knowing, but as an adult I had to buy some, and experiment. It seems like the best (most common) way to use it is to first turn it unto a stewed sauce and then use it as a pie/crisp filling, muffin filling or even in a pudding dessert. It can also just be chopped up and used like apples in a pie as well. The farmer I bought my rhubarb from at the market told me she had been gnawing on it for a few days and she likes to eat it raw. And I have also hard of others chopping it up and freezing it and adding it to smoothies. So, like most vegetables you can do a lot with it if you get creative.
This weekend I made a simple, traditional crisp recipe with some stewed rhubarb and used some added stevia to sweeten and some coconut ice cream to top. Yummy goodness if you ask me... :)
Rhubarb Crumble Recipe (gluten-free, vegan, nut-free)
This simple recipe can be made with lots of substitutions, so I hope you don't mind, but I mention them so that if you have one in your kitchen and not the other you can still see how you can make this recipe.

Rhubarb Filling:
2 pounds of fresh, washed, and chopped rhubarb (about 6 cups chopped)
3/4 cup of fruit juice (apple, orange, grapefruit or pomegranate)
3/4 cup of pure water
1/2 cup of honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup
2 TB of corn starch (or arrowroot or tapioca starch)
dash of cinnamon
(optional additions: chopped sorrel leaf, orange extract, or more cinnamon and nutmeg)
Put the rhubarb pieces, juice and water in a medium pot on medium heat. It will start to warm and the rhubarb will break down and become almost like a sauce (10-15 minutes). Then add the sweetener, stevia, starch and spice, and continue to stir and it will continue to thicken and breakdown. Then let cool on the stove and then pour warm into a 9x13 glass pan. It should cover the whole pan and be about 2-3 inches thick along the bottom. Continue to let cool and make crumble topping...

Crumble Topping:
3/4 cup of quinoa flour (you can make your own by grinding in food processor)
3/4 cup of ground raw sunflower seeds meal ground in food processor (if you want to add nuts, almond meal would work here too)
1 1/2 cup of rolled gluten-free oats (quinoa flakes could be a good sub here)
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/3 cup of coconut palm sugar 
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil (other subs here would be vegan butter options or real butter)
2-3 TB of coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
1 ts. of pure vanilla

In a mixing bowl, mix the flours and oats and all dry ingredients, then add in the slightly melted or soft coconut oil. Mix well, and then add the milk and vanilla to keep it soft. This will be like a very well biscuit batter and then you will be ready to crumble over the rhubarb filling. Crumble the topping with your hands over the rhubarb filling in the 9x13 pan. Crumble evenly all over. Then to add a crispy top sprinkle the following...

Sprinkle on top:
cinnamon and coconut palm sugar (or sucanat)
raw whole sunflower seeds

Then you are ready to bake. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour to really get a crispy and bubbly dish. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream. My favorite is no secret...So Delicious Coconut Vanilla ice cream hits the spot with this one.

Well, friends, that is your mandate for the weekend. Find, forage or buy some fresh rhubarb and make a recipe. This one or another one. It will usher you into summer with the excitement for the coming fresh produce, promise of lazy summer days and stevia-sweetened lemonade. I will be enjoying this dish with friends, and praying over my seedlings in the garden.

Much love to you today!

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