Growing up in Hawaii I didn’t eat a lot of berries. Don’t get me wrong, as a child most days started with a just-picked papaya filled with yogurt or a guava sliced and topped with soyu, so I’m not complaining. I’m just admitting that I didn’t fully understand how amazing spring and summer berries can be until I moved to NY. And even then I wasn’t drawn to strawberries until I worked at Union Square Cafe. I’d go to the Union Square Farmers Market with the chef and only after trying the tristar strawberries from Franca at Berried Treasure Farms did I really get just how special they can be.
Then came rhubarb. That was completely foreign to me. I remember being sent down to the walk in to get rhubarb, also at Union Square Cafe, and having no idea what I was looking for. When I asked the chef what it was I got a big eye roll and “its the pink celery” as a response. I immediately loved how tart and crisp it was. And then learned how well the two go hand in hand.
I don’t normally do desserts at the restaurants combining rhubarb and strawberries because in spring there isn’t a ton of produce available so I like to make one flavor the focus of each dessert. But classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie is one of my favorites and luckily I have Buzz so I get to make it there. The last few weeks of rhubarb in DC is right in line with the middle to end of strawberry season so if you hit the market just right you can get everything you need.
The recipe below is for 2 pies because lets be honest… If you are going through the process of making a pie at home you might as well make two. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding a home for at least one of them.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Recipe
2 Pre-baked Pie Crusts plus additional raw dough for lattice top (store bought or try my recipe here) OR 1 qt raw brown sugar – oatmeal streusel topping
2.25 Pounds Local Strawberries, stems removed and cut into halves or quarters
1.5 Pounds Rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 Vanilla Bean
1 tsp Orange Zest
2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 cup Sugar, divided
1/3 cup cornstarch
1) Take 1/2 the strawberries, 3/4 of the rhubarb and 1/2 cup sugar and mix to combine. Allow to sit 15 minutes. In a high sided saute pan combine fruit with the scraped seeds of the vanilla bean (add the pod to sugar to infuse vanilla sugar) and the zests and cook over a medium heat until the fruit begins to bubble. Stir every so often to prevent scorching.
2) Place the remaining sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk smooth. Make a slurry by whisking in some of the soft fruit to the sugar/cornstarch mix until smooth. Add to the hot fruit mix and stir constantly until it returns to a simmer for 5 minutes.
3) Add the remaining rhubarb then after 3-4 minutes the strawberries. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the rhubarb and strawberries soften but don’t allow them to turn to mush. These will give the pie some texture.
4) Pour the finished fruit mix onto a cookie tray or into a bowl and allow to cool to room temp. Or you can refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days before proceeding (making this a great make-ahead option).
5) Place about 3.5 cups of fruit compote into the pre-baked pie shell. Not you can choose to top with a lattice crust, made by weaving raw strands of dough between each other (I attach the piece to the edge of the crust using a little egg wash) or you can top the pie in a layer of your favorite crumble topping. I love cornmeal or brown sugar-oatmeal.
6) Return to the oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and cooked through. It will really depend on the oven but remember, your bottom crust and filling are fully cooked so just keep an eye on the top crust/crumble.
7) Cool to room temp and enjoy! (Or dig right in, just expect it to be a bit messy!)