Around the same time each year, the little strawberry stand down the street from my parents' house opens for business, proffering their ruby gems that outshine anything found in the grocery stores. I can’t imagine any better welcome to spring than the tart firmness of rhubarb mingled with sweet soft berries in a warm crisp.
The strawberry-rhubarb recipe I have often relied upon, tempting though it was, seemed a little heavy this year. It called for two layers of white flour-based crisp, and the filling called for a mind-boggling amount of white sugar. I have been trying to reduce my sugar and refined carb intake where possible, and was sure that I could come up with a more healthy version that I would still enjoy.
A homey dish like a fruit crisp lends itself well to whole grain flours, and I felt that whole wheat and oat flours worked marvelously for the topping. For the filling, I replaced the white sugar with a little honey, some lemon zest to brighten the flavors, and some vanilla for fragrance. I added a little cornstarch for thickening, but not enough to make the texture gloppy. The resulting crisp was delightful. Instead of masking the natural flavors of the fruit with an excess sweetness, the flavors shone through. If you're a rhubarb lover, I hope you enjoy the season as much as I am right now!
A Healthier Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
½ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
5 T. unsalted butter
4 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and quartered
2 T. honey
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and kosher salt. Cut in the 5 tablespoons chilled, diced butter using a pastry blender (or, if you don’t have one, rub the butter in with your fingers). Place the mixture in the refrigerator.
3. Grease a 9×9-inch pan. Set aside.
4. In another medium bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, honey, cornstarch, zest, and vanilla. Spoon the mixture into the buttered dish or dishes. Blanket the strawberry-rhubarb mixture with the chilled topping. Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbling underneath and brown on top.