My lovely neighbour gifts me rhubarb from her garden more than once every season, and I can tell you, there is something so magical and life- affirming about cooking with locally grown seasonal food that has just been picked! I make a compote with some of it, and also make my own recipe crumble for friends and family to enjoy. I experiment with flavours and tend to slightly change my recipe a little each time I make it, and also find recipes from favourite cookbooks, that I can then adapt to my liking. I made a rhubarb crumble with my own twist for two separate occasions recently, and it was a huge success with everyone. I experimented a little before I decided to use stem ginger, almonds, a little marzipan, and the zest and juice of an orange. It’s a fantastic combination, with the sweet and tart flavours blending perfectly. Rhubarb needs to have some sweetness added to it to reduce its sharpness, which is why it works so well in a crumble.
My version of seasonal rhubarb crumbleI am not generally a sweet loving person, and don’t always even try my own desserts, but I did try a little of this one. As I always say to clients, when we enjoy a dessert as an occasional part of a wholesome diet, we should never feel guilty about it. I don’t believe in trying to cut corners to get a slightly ‘healthier’ version of sweet offerings either. Ayurvedic medicine originated during a time when foods were not tampered with and modified, in order to assuage our guilty feelings, and that’s what we should be looking to return to.
Ingredients should be in their ‘whole’ state, which means they contain the intelligent energy from the sun and moon within. Also, portion sizes definitely seem to have increased in recent years- a smaller, healthier helping of a delicious dessert will satisfy just as much, if not more, than a huge portion that might leave us feeling uncomfortably full, and unable to digest it well. When we look forward to eating something sweet, without the feeling that we are being ‘naughty’, we can digest our food and emotions (which are so hugely linked), which means the nutrients are better absorbed by our cells.
Rhubarb crumble to serve 8 people:
For the fruit base:
900g rhubarb,washed and cut into bite sized pieces
The zest of a half a small orange +2 tbsp of juice
5 balls of stem ginger cut into small pieces
2 tbsp jaggery, grated (or muscovado sugar)
2 tbsp water
A 2 inch square of marzipan, rolled into marble-sized balls
For the crumble:
200g plain flour
150g cold butter, diced
150g demerara sugar
40g ground almonds
4 tbsp flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 180c/350f
There’s no need to be too precious with crumble mix; just put all the dry ingredients except the flaked almonds in a mixing bowl and mix well with a metal spoon. Now add the butter, and using your fingers, rub it into the other ingredients until it is all incorporated. Put the bowl in the fridge while you cook the fruit.
Put the rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish. Add the water, and scatter the jaggery or muscovado sugar evenly over the fruit. Now distribute the rest of the ingredients evenly over and around the rhubarb, and cover the dish with foil. Place it in the oven for around 15 minutes; once the time is up, remove the dish, discard the foil, and put the cold crumble mix over the fruit, before baking for around 20 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven again, scatter the flaked almonds over the top, then return it to the oven once more, for a further 15-25 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling, and the crumble is uniformly golden brown.