Rhubarb Lavender Crumble

Note: I made this again on May 22 for my adviser’s going away party and tweaked the recipe a bit. Instead of white flour, I used whole wheat flour, more rhubarb, and more ginger. Dare I say it was even better. I think it could even use a few squirts of lemon juice the next time.

I have always loved the smell of lavender. My friend Kim and I took a lavender cooking class years ago to learn how to use it in the kitchen beyond making tea. We learned that the key to using lavender is to use the right amount; use too much and you’ll feel as though you are eating or drinking perfume. After some experimentation, my favorite way to use it is in creme brulee, ice cream, shortbread cookies, and grilled salmon. If you are fond of lamb, it’s flavor supposedly compliments the meat very well. A few days ago I stumbled across a recipe for Rhubarb Lavender Crumble just as I received a huge bundle of rhubarb in my produce box. The following experiment was meant to be.

This was the perfect dessert in every way. The lavender and toasted almonds gave it an earthy flavor and crunchy texture. The rhubarb added a tartness that seemed as though we had added lemon juice to the mix. We realized that we were out of vanilla ice cream so we walked across the street to buy a quart of vanilla ice cream with 12 minutes left on the timer. Alex is already on seconds and I’ve eaten half of his bowl. There is something so fantastically “summer” about a piping hot crisp and fresh cold vanilla ice cream. It almost doesn’t matter that it’s 48 degrees and drizzling outside.

I’ll definitely be making this again as it was easy to throw together (Alex did most of it) and it tastes insanely delicious. Next time, I might substitute whole wheat flour for the topping to add in some nutritional value. Or not.

Rhubarb Lavender Crumble
9×13 pan of rhubarb crumble – serves 4-8

2 pounds fresh rhubarb, leaves removed and discarded
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender buds

Heat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a 9×13 pan by greasing lightly with butter or with oil spray. Cut the rhubarb stalks into small pieces – about the size of your knuckle. They should be evenly sized. Toss with the sugar, honey, and salt. Rub the lavender between your hands, crushing it into the rhubarb. Stir everything and spread evenly in the baking pan.

Crumble topping

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Nuts (optional)
Water or milk

Mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter. Add just enough water or milk so that the mix comes together in loose clumps – not too wet. Stir in the nuts, if using (we used walnuts). Dot the fruit with the mixture evenly.

Spread the crumble topping over the rhubarb.

Final topping

3/4 cup sliced and toasted almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

Melt the butter, toasted almonds, and brown sugar together in the microwave or in a small saucepan, and dot over the crumble topping.

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Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for at least 15 minutes, then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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