A little piece of trivia – rhubarb is actually a vegetable. However, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as a fruit, and because of it’s tart flavor, rhubarb is often cooked with sugar and used in pies or other desserts.
Growing up in the Midwest, rhubarb (being a perennial), seemed to grow everywhere. We’d snap off a piece and enjoy the raw, tart, crisp stalks alone or dipped in a little sugar! Of course, there’s countless versions of recipes for rhubarb crisp, rhubarb and apple crumble, and my mom’s absolutely delicious recipe for rhubarb crunch (pictured below) that we enjoyed during those summer months!
Recently, I was trying to find a “lower sugar” version of a rhubarb recipe, and everything I found just seemed a bit disappointing (in my opinion) – not something I’d feel proud serving for company, which is kind of a litmus test for me.
So I decided to do a little experimenting and came up with the following recipe. Since I typically don’t enjoy food substitutions or versions of dessert recipes that are tweaked to be “healthy” (they leave me a bit dissatisfied which is not the point of dessert), I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out.
In some recipes, ingredients like sugar (or even salt) actually overpower the flavor of the food it’s added to. In fact, we’ve become a bit “used to” this level of sweetness or seasoning – and have come to expect it. As I’ve said before, we don’t need to “cut sugar out” of the diet, but we do need to recognize when we are missing out on the natural flavor of food because it’s masked or covered up by these highly palatable ingredients.
Therefore, preparing this recipe with less sugar seemingly highlights the deliciousness of the unique, tart flavor of the rhubarb and it doesn’t seem like a compromise on flavor. And…the crunch and light sweetness of the topping was accented with the addition of the walnuts. Absolutely delicious!
So, it passed my litmus test and I would definitely serve this for my guests!
Rhubarb & Strawberry Crunch
Rhubarb is a nutritious addition to many recipes. Typically baked with a lot of sugar to balance its tartness, this rhubarb recipe has just the right amount of sweetness from the strawberries and honey, so it’s a delicious treat, but not too much so you can still enjoy the tang of the rhubarb!
- 4 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb**
- 1-pint strawberries hulled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup flour (can substitute with whole wheat or almond flour)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries and honey. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, i.e. 8 x 8
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix in butter with fork until crumbly and spread over top of the fruit.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until rhubarb is tender and the topping is toasted.