Few vegetables are more at home in a dessert than in a savory dish, but the long and brightly colored stalks of rhubarb have long stood their ground on the sweeter side of food.
Similar to celery in appearance, the long and often fibrous stalks can range anywhere from light green to deep red in color. With a short growing season that peaks in the middle of spring, rhubarb is a wonderfully tart reminder of the bounty that is to come.
I try to stray from writing about work, but last week, we had a very happy accident that has resulted in this tasty recipe. We were supposed to be testing a recipe for rhubarb muffins, only with a slight hang up. Rhubarb has yet to show its stalks at any farmers market or grocery store in our area.
SARAH GREEN/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Shown is roasted rhubarb and buttermilk pie, a recipe Sarah Green adapted from her great-grandmother. Through experimentation, she found that her favorite preparation comes from roasting chunks of rhubarb until soft.
With a deadline approaching, we were lucky enough to get a special order of fresh rhubarb from Holland. The stalks deep red and pink, still firm to the touch, and in perfect shape to be included in our recipe.
The muffins came and went, but not without leaving a good chunk of the rhubarb behind. Not wanting it to go to waste, I gave it a home in my refrigerator while I began researching ways to use it.
Through experimenting, I found that my favorite preparation came from roasting chunks until soft. This once lip puckering tart vegetable had been completely transformed.
Wanting to give you all something new and interesting to try, I shied away from the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie.
Upon graduation from culinary school, my grandmother gave me a cookbook filled with recipes from the 40s and 50s, many of which my great-grandmother wrote and had served at her restaurant. The recipe for buttermilk pie is simple, adaptable, and my go to anytime I have left over buttermilk sitting around.
I was curious about the combination of the sour buttermilk and tart rhubarb, worried it could be too much, but once baked, the flavors married together as if this was the real match for rhubarb, kicking strawberry to the side.
The filling is baked in a nut crust, which consists solely of three ingredients: the nut of your choice finely ground, sugar, and melted butter.
This is one of the easiest crusts to make whether you are gluten free or not, not to mention it is delicious. The trick with the crust is to lightly pat the mixture into your pie dish, rather than pack it down, creating a lighter base. The richness of the nut and creaminess of the butter balances the tart flavor of the pie, making this the perfect refreshing yet satisfying treat for all of your spring soirees.
Roasted Rhubarb and Buttermilk Pie
Yields: 1-9" pie or 8 slices
3 1/2 cups walnuts, ground
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar, can increase to 1/3 cup if you'd like a sweeter crust
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1rounded tablespoon of gluten free AP flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
Begin by preheating your oven to 350.
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until they are finely ground.
Pulse in your desired amount of sugar, then remove mixture to a large bowl.
Drizzle in your melted butter and stir until the mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer the nut mixture into a greased 9" pie dish or spring form pan.
Form the mixture evenly around the dish without packing it down.
Par bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
In a large bowl, toss your chopped rhubarb with the orange zest, sugar, and water.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until soft.
Once roasted, remove from the oven and set to the side to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat your eggs on medium for 1-2 minutes. In a small bowl, add your sugar and flour and whisk to combine. Once your eggs have begun to lighten, slowly add the sugar and flour mixture. Once combined, add in the buttermilk.
Next, very slowly drizzle in your melted butter. If you go to fast, this could cook the eggs. Last but not least, mix in the vanilla. On low, mix in the roasted rhubarb, and transfer into the cooled piecrust. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the middle has set.
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.
Her goal is to make gluten-free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.