Recipe(s): Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

This week's CSA delivery included a pound each of rhubarb stalks and strawberries. Well, every Mrs. Scrimp knows what to do with those two fresh ingredients... make a pie!

I knew I'd be doing it as soon as I picked the food up on Friday, but I also knew that Mr. Scrimp and I would be camping in West Virginia for the weekend (I came home with literally eighteen--eighteen! I counted!--bug bites on my right arm alone, and that's after practically bathing in citronella). So, I washed and dried the rhubarb and put it in the fridge, and I washed, hulled, and halved the strawberries and froze them for the weekend.

On Sunday, we were invited to a barbecue, and I knew it was time for some pie action.  But I had no recipe... so, I made up my own.

Note: I used this as a pie filling, cooking it on the stovetop, pouring it into an already-baked pie crust and chilling it until it set... mostly. However, if my experience is any indication, you should expect this to be runny, and next time I plan to use it for a parfait or trifle or other layered, multi-textured dessert instead, hence my calling this recipe a dessert recipe and not a pie recipe.

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 1 lb rhubarb stalks*
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c corn starch
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • Butter 
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, to taste
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, heat a very small amount of butter. While the pot is heating, cut the rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces and immediately put in pot, swirling to coat with melted butter. Add a small handful of strawberries.

Add about 1/4 cup of water to strawberries and rhubarb, stirring gently. Bring to a boil and simmer for one minute. The rhubarb contains a fair amount of water which it will release, so there's no need to add more.

Continue to let rhubarb simmer. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Be sure to stir gently. As the rhubarb cooks, it will get mushy. Add spices. I didn't measure these--I shook them out of bottles. Five shakes of cinnamon, two of nutmeg, one of allspice. Add another small handful of strawberries.

In a small cup or bowl, mix cornstarch with just enough water to liquefy it and pour it into the pot, stirring until well-mixed. This will thicken the mixture.

Continue to simmer, until rhubarb is completely cooked. Taste for sweetness--I like my rhubarb to be tart, so I didn't add very much sugar. Add more sugar if desired.

Crack an egg and beat it well, adding a splash of water. Pour into the rhubarb-strawberry mixture and stir in gently but quickly. It is imperative that this step happens fast, before the egg completely cooks, or you'll end up with egg bits floating around in your dessert, and that's just gross.

Add remaining strawberries and continue to simmer just long enough to cook them and no more (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat, pour into a pie crust, and chill immediately for at least 2 hours. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Alternative serving ideas:
  • Serve in a bowl with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or heavy or clotted cream
  • Spoon over shortcake
  • Layer with sponge cake and whipped cream to make trifle
  • Layer with granola and greek yogurt to make parfait
 * NOTE: The leaves of the rhubarb plant are very high in oxalic acid, and therefore poisonous. Never eat rhubarb leaves, and be sure to trim your stalks carefully.

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