It’s Tuesday. And we’re doing that taste test thing again.
I was out of town last week and returned home to find a jungle of rhubarb growing in one of our garden beds … ready to harvest and screaming to be made into a pie. And we had the excuse of a Memorial Day Cookout to try my hand at a strawberry-rhubarb pie.
But here’s the thing: Growing up in New Jersey, we also had a plethora of rhubarb growing in the garden. And my stepdad’s Aunt Ginny (God bless her … a beautiful and funny gal) would take this incredibly tart stalky plant and cook it down with loads of plump juicy red strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, sugar, a little more cornstarch and a lot more sugar and would turn this beautiful Spring harvest into a gelatinous pie that pretty much tasted like cornstarch and sugar.
So to say I was excited to learn a few years ago that we had rhubarb growing (like a weed) in the garden is kind of … well … it would actually be kind of an exaggeration.
I didn’t know that strawberry-rhubarb pie could be tangy (that’s the job of fresh rhubarb in a pie) … sweet (naturally sweet because fresh organic strawberries cook down into a gorgeously sweet, but not overly sweet, treat) … and a totally refreshing end to a holiday cookout. Especially with some homemade ice cream.
But then I met (metaphorically … in the blogsphere … I’ve never actually met her) Deb Perelman from The Smitten Kitchen, and everything about my relationship with rhubarb has changed.
Because her recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie is totally sublime.
Firstly, there’s no cornstarch (she uses tapioca instead).
She limits her use of sugar (which I reduced even more, and I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar).
And the tablespoon of lemon juice makes everything taste as fresh as it is.
Here’s what’s in it:
- Deb uses an All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough or double-crust pie dough of your choice (we use a recipe for a butter crust from The Pie Chef that has never failed us. It’s the best pie crust I’ve ever had)
- rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
- strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
- granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar and reduced the amount by about a third)
- light brown sugar (I used grade B maple syrup, instead)
- lemon juice
- salt (her recipes generally call for kosher or iodized salt. I use sea salt)
- quick-cooking tapioca (you can use tapioca pearls instead, but they need to be soaked first)
- unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- egg yolk beaten to blend with water (for wash)
I’m not kidding when I say this pie is sublime. The kiddos and I are headed out this morning to “harvest” more rhubarb so we can try a version of this in a breakfast cobbler.
One thing I should point out … Deb Perelman is not necessarily a “real food” or “nourishing food” blogger. She may not soak her grains or use traditional cooking methods. But her food is not processed. It’s wholesome, delicious and clearly cooked with love.
We’re linked up: