This time of year is like the snake in a medieval manuscript who curls around and bites its tail. Oh, I’m sure the Jungians, and maybe even the Freudians, would have a field day with this reference. Not to mention my kids. However, in its most elemental sense, the symbol portrays cyclicality, a perfect theme for spring as the old morphs into the new and we go round and round again. Composted dried leaves nourish the soil for newly planted greens. Woody old plants bud into new green shoots. In the kitchen, there’s a somewhat more paradoxical confluence of pantry and garden. I don’t mean the preserving pantry, since that’s available at any time, but rather the storage vegetables.
It always amazes me that our local apple farm can reliably keep its crop available from the fall harvest until early spring. Their Stayman winesap apples are starting to be a little mealy, but this particular variety stays crisper longer than most. I can buy them locally at the same time as the first stalks of rhubarb. Here I’ve combined them into a comforting rustic dessert with a kick. The pungency of spring is nearly here.
Rhubarb Apple Crisp
3 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces (2+ cups)
2 apples, peeled and cored and cut into ¾-inch pieces (2+ cups)
1 tbsp brown or Demerara sugar
¼ c soft butter
1/3 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
2/3 c oatmeal flakes
1/3 c chopped pecans
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the fruit, place it in an 8-9-inch pie pan, or rectangular ceramic or enameled cast iron baking dish, and sprinkle with sugar.
Combine the topping ingredients and pat them into a crust on top of the fruit.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Pour a little heavy cream on top, or serve with whipped cream or ice cream or just plain. Serves 4.