I know strawberries and rhubarb are old friends, but it seems I never see them in the market together. The good rhubarb is gone by the time the good berries come in. This year it’s different, beautiful samples of both were side-by-side at the farmers’ market. That was Monday, we’ll see what Thursday brings. Rhubarb leaves may be pretty, but don’t eat them. They can make you anywhere from mildly sick to a candidate for what John Cleese in the Parrot Sketch called “the choir invisible.”
Makes 8 servings
7 to 8 thin stalks of rhubarb without leaves, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 1 pound; 3 cups)
1 quart basket ripe strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and halved
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Large pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the topping:
2/3 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans (if you like)
6 tablespoons room temperature butter, cut into 6 pieces
Make the filling: Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cardamom, orange zest and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Let the fruit stand, tossing every once in a while, until the sugar is almost all dissolved, about 30 minutes.
Make the topping: Stir the oatmeal, flour, brown and granulated sugars and pecans together in a bowl. Work the butter into the oat mixture with your fingertips until everything is very well blended. Refrigerate the topping until the oven is heated. Refrigerate the topping until the oven is heated.
Heat the oven to 375° F with a rack in the center position.
Scrape the fruit mix into a 10-inch oval baking dish (or any dish that holds the fruit in a layer about ¾ inches deep, like an 8×8-inch square). Crumble the chilled topping over the fruit, covering all of the fruit evenly. Bake until the topping is browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Cool at least 30 minutes before eating.