Red invasion

Inside the rhubarb patch

When we first looked into buying our house, I was smitten with a huge rhubarb patch nestled under the porch. Now, as it unfurls its toxic leaves with supernatural force, I’m happy about every penny we spend on our mortgage. I love rhubarb. (I was also surprised to learn just now that it would take about 5 kg of the toxic leaves to kill a person my size.)

Yesterday I realized we’ll be gone this weekend, when all the tiny just-sprouting rhubarb stalks will be trying to push their way through the mature leaves to the sunlight. I thought I’d help them out by pruning out (and eating) the biggest of the bunch:

Picking rhubarb

I can’t even think about rhubarb without singing the Prairie Home Companion ditty about Be-Bop-A-Re-Bop Rhubarb Pie, the pie that washes away the taste of shame and humiliation. I know rhubarb pie is an eventual must, but I decided to start in on my stash with a few less likely contenders, even if they have fewer sin-ridding side effects.

And a poll: my husband took one bite of these bars and announced they need goat cheese. I think that sounds repulsive, and I love goat cheese in almost everything. What do you think?

Rhubarb Bars with Pine Nut Crust

Recipe for Rhubarb Bars with Pine Nut Crust
Recipe 96 of 365

Inspired by one of my favorite desserts, lemon bars, these bars have a rich, buttery crust made with toasted pine nuts and a gooey, tangy-sweet rhubarb topping. Note that they’ll need to chill for a few hours after baking before you can cut and serve them.

TIME: about 30 minutes
MAKES: 24 bars

For the pine nut crust:

Vegetable oil spray
2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream

For the rhubarb topping:

1 cup sugar
1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1” chunks
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with the vegetable oil spray and set aside.

Add the remaining crust ingredients to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is sandy and beginning to cling together, about 30 1-second pulses. Dump the mixture into the baking pan, saving the food processor bowl for making the topping. Use your hands to press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1/2 inch. Bake the crust for 20 minutes on the middle rack, or until just beginning to brown at the edges.

When the crust comes out of the oven, start the topping: puree the sugar and the rhubarb together in the food processor until it has the consistency of applesauce. Add the eggs, salt, and baking powder, and pulse a few times, until blended. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the crust, and use a spatula to smooth it into an even layer.

Bake the bars on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is firm and just barely beginning to brown. Let the bars cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then transfer the pan to the refrigerator and cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Filed under dessert, garden, recipe

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