Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
There are only a few food items that we truly see seasonally. In an ideal world, we’d save our strawberries and blueberries for summer, and bypass the strawberries with the white centers and blueberries that are more green than blue and so tart they make our cheeks hurt. But, as we know, strawberries can be picked up at any point throughout the year, along with blueberries, cherries, raspberries …
Like most of our fruits and vegetables, we don’t bat an eye to tomatoes in the grocery store in January, or the pineapple in September. There are, however, a few produce items that remain true seasonal gems; items that are next to impossible to find outside of their growing season: fiddleheads, garlic scapes, spring onions and ramps, to name a few. One of my very personal favorites falls in to this category: rhubarb. Rhubarb, beautiful, beautiful rhubarb: the red cousin of celery and the perfect tart companion to strawberries. Nearly impossible to grow in hothouses, these beautiful fruits (though technically a veggie) are hardly ever spotted outside of their spring window of opportunity. Having just received a few stalks of rhubarb and a pint of strawberries, it was obvious what the universe wanted me to do: bake strawberry rhubarb pie.
I’m going to preface the rest of this post with: I don’t have a picture of the end product. I baked my strawberry rhubarb pie with a group of fifth graders, and unfortunately the class was a little chaotic and documentation just simply could not happen (kids get excited about pie, apparently?). That being said, this is a delicious, simple recipe that NEEDS to be replicated. To save time (and so that we could eat it right away) we made miniature tarts rather than pies, which I think are a great alternative, particularly if you’re bringing them to a party, dinner, etc. The process is pretty simple: Make a pie dough beforehand, mix together your filling and bake.
Here’s a breakdown.
Pie dough: What a tricky, delicate subject. I fell in love with Cook’s Illustrated theory of putting vodka in your pie crust (the alcohol cooks off but leaves an incredibly flakey crust), but since I was using this at school, I used a basic:
2.5 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons really cold, unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1/4 cup water, as needed
Mix these together in a food processor, with very little handling, keep cold until using.
I had a lot of pie crusts to make that day, so my kitchen looked something like this.
As for the filling, we kept it simple, and it was scrumptious.
3 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup rhubarb, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sugar
dash of salt
tablespoon lemon juice
Combine these ingredients, mix until the dry ingredients are absorbed, and let sit to get the juices goin’.
I like making tarts because you have the freedom to make any size of shape. We made about 10 individual tarts out of each pie dough, filled them with the fruit mixture, brushed with a egg white wash and sprinkled a bit of sugar on top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
The end products were beautiful: a vibrant, bold, pink and each rustic tart unique to its creator. Admittedly, I have yet to try rhubarb in a savory dish, and I happen to think that most of us that get excited at the first sight of rhubarb immediately think of one thing … pairing it with strawberries. Perhaps, perhaps next year (as rhubarb season is about to come to a close), I’ll venture into a new recipe, but something tells me I’ll stick with an old faithful.
*I’ve mentioned before recipes from Cook’s Illustrated, such as the vodka pie crust mentioned in this post. I highly recommend this cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated. It breaks down the science behind all basic recipes, and is an incredible resource.