Mother Nature is pretty much a genius when it comes to ensuring that things that grow together seem to taste good together. Rhubarb comes up first in the spring. Then, a bit later strawberries. And it just so happens that when paired, they are a taste sensation. I made strawberry rhubarb jam last week that was so good I could have consumed the entire jar and called it breakfast. Somehow Nature just knows. Tomatoes and basil? Great plants to grow together and a wonderful flavour pairing. Ditto with corn, beans, and squash. It’s a marvel.
But let’s talk summer fruit crisp. Or really, early summer fruit crisp, since rhubarb and strawberries are primarily June growers (and June is what I think of as early summer). A good fruit crisp should be decadent, yet healthy; sweet, yet still a bit tart. Earlier in the spring I made a delightful cranberry rhubarb crisp that I sweetened with coconut palm sugar and dates. I decided to try the same combo here, assuming that, as a general rule, dates taste pretty good with most things and an oat crumble covers all manner of sins.
And indeed, the plan was successful. You can vary the amount of sugar in this crisp, depending on the state of your strawberries. Riper berries need a bit less sugar than the recipe calls for. Also, I put pumpkin seeds in the crumble topping, because I believe in putting nuts and/or seeds in basically everything, and also because pumpkin seeds are so full of zinc, and look beautiful against the red strawberries and rhubarb. They can easily be omitted, though, if they don’t suit your fancy. And finally, the recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups strawberries, but if you happen to have 3 or 4 cups’ worth that you want to use up, by all means. This recipe can take it.
The finishing touch of this crisp is whipped coconut cream, which is completely optional, but does add a certain special extra something to the crisp upon serving. Full-fat coconut milk is the best stand-in for heavy cream you’ll find. I shouldn’t even say ‘stand-in,’ since coconut milk is really its own category of deliciousness, especially when you sweeten it with a bit of maple syrup and vanilla. The chilling of the coconut milk serves two purposes: 1) to help thicken it up, and 2) to keep it fresh, since coconut milk only lasts a few days in the fridge.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Oat & Pumpkin Seed Crumble
- Author: Backyard Owl
- Recipe notes: gluten-free (if using certified gluten-free oats), vegan, naturally-sweetened, seasonal
- 1/3 coconut palm sugar
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 oat flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
- 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup soft dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Whipped Coconut Cream
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Mix together coconut palm sugar, oat flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin seeds, and rolled oats.
- Melt coconut oil and pour over oat mixture, mixing until all dry ingredients are coated with some oil. Refrigerate until ready for use.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly grease a 9×13 glass baking pan with coconut oil.
- For the fruit mixture, combine cornstarch and coconut palm sugar.
- Toss rhubarb, strawberries, and chopped dates with the cornstarch/sugar mix until all are well coated.
- Put fruit mix into pan and top with crumble mix.
- Bake in the oven at 350F for about 1 hour. Check at 20 minutes and 40 minutes. Crisp is done when juices at edge of pan are bubbling, but most importantly, when juices in the middle of the crisp are bubbling too. If topping starts to get too brown, cover with tin foil.
- While crisp is baking, whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla, and keep in fridge.
- Serve crisp topped with a dollop of coconut cream, if desired.
Ah, felicity! Strawberries and rhubarb are heavenly, and with a bit of coconut cream, you are on your way to savouring the best that (early) summer has to offer.
© Backyard Owl 2014