Italian
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Growing up, my mother was a housewife who prepared a full dinner for our family every night, often followed by dessert. My father had a sweet tooth, and my mother treated him to traditional 1950s desserts like lemon meringue pie, Deep Dish apple pie, pineapple upside-down cake, and lots of fruit crisps and tarts.

Fruit crisps are great because they are quick and easy to make, use fresh seasonal fruit, and can be cooked while you enjoy dinner. I rarely make desserts for just the two of us, but now that I have my daughter and her family right down the street, I have three hungry grandchildren who will devour anything I make for them, especially desserts, so I find myself baking desserts more often since we moved.

Strawberry season is finally here and the large, ripe, locally grown fruits are finally making their appearance in our markets. In fact, I'm hoping to go strawberry picking this week. Last week I invited the family over for dinner and I wanted to treat them to dessert, so I made these yummy strawberry and rhubarb crisps that are reminiscent of the ones I enjoyed growing up.

This pairing is perfect because although ripe strawberries are sweet, the acidity of the rhubarb keeps the sweetness level in check. I like to serve this dessert warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, but a dollop of whipped cream is also delicious. You can vary the fruit depending on the season, as long as they keep the same quantities. You can also use frozen rhubarb because fresh rhubarb is difficult to find. I made this recipe using wholemeal flour like spelled bream flour, and it was just as delicious.

Good appetite!
Debora Mele

ingredients

  • 4 cups cut ripe strawberries, roughly chopped

  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Gasket:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (see notes above)

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

  • 12 tablespoons softened butter or coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar and orange zest.
  3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice, then incorporate this mixture into the fruit.
  4. Pour fruit into an 8 x 10-inch baking dish or ovenproof casserole dish.
  5. In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, oats, cinnamon, and walnuts, if using.
  6. Add the butter or coconut oil and, using your fingertips, rub it into the flour/oat mixture until crumbly.
  7. Sprinkle the dressing evenly over the fruit to cover, then bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.
  8. Cool briefly, then serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.


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