Early spring in New England begins with an unusual vegetable and ends in early summer with a sweet, juicy fruit — and the two make for a perfect marriage. I am referring to that magical combination: a strawberry rhubarb pie.
Rhubarb poking out of the cool earth with bright stalks is one of the first signs of spring. It’s similar in looks to celery, but bigger and bright pink. Like ruby chard, but with a taste that is quite tart. Rhubarb plants are topped with an inedible flower, which makes me wonder how a vegetable that could have been dismissed is instead introduced to the perfect mate, the strawberry, and together they are the consummate example of opposites attracting.
This recipe is from my cookbook “Vineyard Harvest,” with photos by Alison Shaw, which came out 17 years ago. This recipe — like many cobblers, crisps, and crumbles — is timeless, made with a few ingredients, but always with fresh in-season fruit.
Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
4 cups rhubarb stalks, washed, cut into two-inch pieces 1 cup sugar 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved 1½ cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. salt 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces ½ cup light cream
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb with ¾ cup sugar and cornstarch, and set aside for about 25 minutes. Gently mix in strawberries, and let sit 5 more minutes.
For the cobbler topping, using a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients with remaining sugar. Add cold butter pieces and mix until crumbly. Add cream and mix until mixture comes together. Do not overmix.
Pour strawberry-rhubarb mixture into a ceramic or glass 9- by 11-inch baking dish. Top with cobbler topping mixture, covering as much as possible. Bake for about 35 minutes, until it is golden on top.
Serve warm with vanilla whipped cream or ice cream.