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A ruby-red rhubarb dessert

  • NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

My recent trip to the farmers’ market confirmed my suspicions: Spring has well and truly arrived, at least in my neck of the woods (Southern California). With pleasure, I spied a collection of seasonal harbingers: Asparagus! Green garlic! Rhubarb! It didn’t take me long to envision a menu that would show them off.

As for the ruby red rhubarb that pops up this time of year, I knew at once that it would that it would become a glorious fruit crumble — a relative of other homey desserts like crisps and buckles. Chopped into cubes and tossed with sugar and a bit of flour to help thicken the bright juices, the rhubarb gets a nubbly topping made from brown sugar, flour and butter, enhanced with a handful of optional chopped pistachio.

Baked until bubbly and browned, this irresistible dessert can be served with cold heavy cream, whipped cream or ice cream. I always hope for leftovers to enjoy for breakfast with a blob of yogurt. That way, I can continue the spring celebration well beyond a single meal.

Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients for the filling:

• About 2 pounds rhubarb stalks, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (6 1/2 cups or 783 grams)

• 1 1/4 cups (251 grams) granulated sugar

• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the topping:

•1 cup (128 grams) all-purpose flour

• 1/4 cup (52 grams) granulated or brown sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

• Pinch of salt

• Pinch of ground ginger

• Pinch of cinnamon

• 1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces or grated on the big holes of a box grater

• 1/2 cup finely chopped or ground pistachios (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the filling: Toss the rhubarb cubes with sugar and flour. Set aside and let macerate while you make the topping, about 20 minutes.

Make the topping: Put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl, and stir together. Add butter and work into flour with fingers or a fork, as if making pie dough. The mixture will be loose and crumbly. Stir in the pistachios, if using.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer sugared rhubarb to a 9-inch baking dish, about 3 inches deep. Sprinkle topping loosely over fruit to a depth of about 1 inch.

Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until topping is golden and filling is visibly bubbling at the edges. Cool slightly before serving.

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, serves 6-8.

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