Rhubarb is an odd fruit. To begin with, it's actually a vegetable - a vegetable with poisonous leaves. The stalks are crisp and juicy, with a vegetal crunch rather like celery. And yet this prosaic stalk can produce some of the most beautiful and delicious food of the spring season.
It's also far easier to prepare than we realized; this crumble involves no pre-cooking, no stewing. It's a fast dessert with a delicate sweetness and hearty topping.
Rhubarb Lavender Crisp
Serves 4 to 8
2 pounds fresh rhubarb, leaves removed and discarded
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 batch of Basic Oat Crumble Topping for Fruit - Softer Version
3/4 cup sliced and toasted almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
Heat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a 9x13 pan by greasing lightly with butter or with oil spray. Cut the rhubarb stalks into small pieces - about the size of your knuckle. They should be evenly sized. Toss with the sugar, honey, and salt. Rub the lavender between your hands, crushing it into the rhubarb. Stir everything and spread evenly in the baking pan.
Spread the crumble topping over the rhubarb. Melt the butter, toasted almonds, and brown sugar together in the microwave or in a small saucepan, and dot over the crumble topping.
Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for at least 15 minutes, then serve with whipped cream or strawberry ice cream.
(Images: Faith Hopler)