So far this spring, we've had very little in the way of April showers and lots in the way of freezing cold Arctic blasts that take your breath away. But I know you're coming, Spring. I know it because the snow piles have finally receded, exposing all the computer monitors that have been dumped in the woods behind our house, sun glinting off the screens at various times of day. I also know because the turkey vultures have returned to roost back there, as they do every year around this time, lured by rumors of carrion and free wifi.
But it's the appearance of rhubarb in the markets that truly announces warmer days ahead. Nothing says spring like weird pink vegetables. I made this ginger-laced rhubarb crisp for Easter weekend as the mercury inched past sixty degrees. The first real taste of spring!
Bracing and bright, these two flavors were made for each other. You want fresh ginger here, not ground.
1-1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter the inside of a 9-inch pie plate or 8x8-inch baking dish.
Combine the rhubarb, ginger and 1 cup of the sugar in the prepared dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers (pinching the butter into smaller and smaller pieces) or using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal flecked with pea-sized pieces of butter (you can also do this in a food processor). Scatter the mixture over the rhubarb.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the rhubarb juices are bubbly. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Source: Adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews.