Thanks to this weather my rhubarb plants are big and beautiful, which can’t be said of much in my too-shady garden area. So I have been taking full advantage of effortlessly growing something, anything right now. I try to work rhubarb into several different dishes during the late spring/early summer.
As the huge leaves spill over our garden beds, I add chopped rhubarb stalks to the top of coffeecake, simmer it down to a sweet sauce, or slip it into fresh juices. Rhubarb provides a tart balance to dishes that would otherwise taste too sweet.
As I was flipping through the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens, a pie recipe caught my eye. It pairs traditional BFF’s, rhubarb and strawberries, in a simple, flavorful filling. The only changes I made to the original recipe were to decrease the sugar and omit the ginger.
However, the part that caught my attention was the crust. As in, no rolling required! The crust is so wonderfully simple. Once you have combined all the crust ingredients, simply roll and wrap two logs of dough, and toss them in the freezer for a couple hours (or up to a month). Then you just cut thin slices of dough, arrange them in your pie plate, and press into a crust.
I was skeptical at first, thinking I would have a sticky hassle on my hands, but the cold dough is super simple to handle, like working with edible Play-Doh. This would actually be a great recipe for little hands to help, which is saying a lot coming from me.
The result is a sweet crust that tastes like a cross between a shortbread cookie and a normal pie crust. Even if you are not a fan of rhubarb, you could easily use this crust method with your favorite filling.
I have made it twice in the last two weeks, and our family loves. this. recipe. Um, scratch that. We hid it from the small people in the house, but my husband and I happily polished off the entire pie together over the course of a week. It is just that good. Try it for yourself!
Best-Ever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe
Yield: 8 servings
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1/4 c. cold butter, cut into small cubes
6-7 T. ice cold water
2 1/2 T. quick cooking tapioca (or all-purpose flour)
1/4 t. salt
3-4 c. fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
3-4 c. fresh sliced strawberries
1 c. sugar
- For the pastry, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut in the shortening and butter until the mixture contains no larger than pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture until moist. Gather the dough into a ball, using your hands to combine it.
- Shape the dough into a large log and divide it into two pieces, one with 1/3 of the dough and one with 2/3 of the dough. Shape the smaller into a 5×1 1/2″ log, and the larger into a 7×2″ log. Wrap both with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least two hours.
- For the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the sugar, tapioca or flour, and salt. Add rhubarb and strawberries and toss until evenly coated. Let the rhubarb mixture stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (If you are using frozen rhubarb, let the mixture stand for 45 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the 7″ chilled dough log into about 28 thin slices. Place 16 slices around the edge of a 9″pie plate. Place the remaining slices in the bottom of the pie plate. Using your fingers, quickly press the pieces of pastry together to fill the gaps. Shape edges as desired.
- Stir the fruit mixture before pouring it into the bottom crust in the pie plate. Slice the remaining pastry into 15-18 slices. Arrange the slices on top of the fruit.
- Place the pie on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes. Cover outer crust with foil if it is getting too dark. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden. Cool.
It only took me nine years to buy my own pie server. Such a simple, inexpensive (under $10!) tool, but it makes a big difference when slicing and serving a round sweet or savory dish. If you go to the work of making something impressive (or picking it up at Costco), it’s nice when it doesn’t look like a small explosion on your guest’s plates. This OXO Steel Pie Server, available from Amazon, is sturdy and attractive, with sharp, serrated edges for cutting.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out 35 ways to use summer produce.
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