Recipes: Get into a heated rhubarb for Sukkot


During biblical times, the holiday of Sukkot, which begins at sundown Oct. 16, celebrated a bountiful harvest. Meals were served outdoors in small wooden huts, and fresh fruit and bunches of grapes decorated the roof of the sukkah. The meals and menus that carried out the harvest theme featured fruit, grains and vegetables. 

I am sharing some delicious dishes to serve during the holiday using rhubarb, my favorite (fruit-like) vegetable. Rhubarb stalks grow in a spectrum of colors from bright red to green, and although the season is short, you can usually find them at most markets. (When shopping for rhubarb stalks, make sure they are firm and shiny without any soft spots, and remember to never peel rhubarb.)

Many years ago, while dining at a small family restaurant called The Swiss Echo in Los Angeles, I discovered how much I loved the vegetable. The chef-owner made rhubarb pies, and they were on the menu every day. In those days, it was a treat because it was almost impossible to find rhubarb in dishes at any restaurant. I am sharing my recipe for Rhubarb Pie that is similar to Swiss Echo’s original dessert. 

These days, when I see rhubarb in the open farmers markets, I can’t resist grabbing a bag and filling it with the lovely red stalks, to make Rhubarb Compote. It is my son-in-law Jay’s favorite dish, and when I make a batch, I always freeze some extra so I will have it available for him.

Serve the compote with your main course or as dessert. It can be prepared in advance and will be a perfect addition to your Sukkot meal, which also can include my Rhubarb Streusel Loaf! 

RHUBARB PIE

– Rhubarb Pie Filling (recipe follows)
– 2 cups flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– 2/3 cup unsalted butter, diced  
– 1/3 cup ice water
– 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Prepare Rhubarb Pie Filling; set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar and fluff with a fork. Add the diced butter and blend until the mixture is crumbly. Slowly add water, blending until it begins to come together.  

Transfer the dough to a floured board and press it into a ball and then pull it apart; if it crumbles in your hands, it needs more water. (It’s better to err on the side of too wet than too dry.) Add water, a teaspoon or two at a time, as needed.

Divide the dough into two slightly unequal balls, the larger one for the bottom crust and the smaller one for the top. Flatten the larger ball, reforming any frayed edges with the sides of your hand. Dust with flour and roll the dough, starting from the center and moving toward the edges. Take a knife or thin spatula and quickly work its edge between the crust and the counter top. Lift the dough to the side; dust the dough and counter top with flour. 

Roll again until the diameter is 1 or 2 inches larger than that of the pie pan. Lay the rolling pin a third of the way from one of the edges. Roll the crust onto the pin and then unroll the crust into a 9-inch pie pan and press it into place. Cover and place in the refrigerator or freezer.

Pour Rhubarb Pie Filling into the crust-lined pie pan. Dot with remaining butter.

Roll out the top crust. Dab the rim of the bottom crust with water to create a glue. Then place the top crust over the rhubarb; trim, seal and cut several vents with a sharp knife. 

Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, or until a bit of pink juice bubbles from the vents in the crust.  

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

RHUBARB PIE FILLING

– 5 cups sliced rhubarb
– 1 1/4 cups sugar
– 5 tablespoons flour
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, blend the rhubarb, sugar, flour and cinnamon.

Makes about 4 cups.

RHUBARB COMPOTE

4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1-inch slices
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cranberry juice

Place rhubarb in a large saucepan, cover with sugar and let stand for 1 hour. Add cranberry juice to mixture and, over medium-low heat, bring to a boil, uncovered. Simmer and cook 1 to 5 minutes until rhubarb is soft but still holds shape.

Cool, transfer to glass bowl and refrigerate several hours before serving.  

Makes about 3 to 4 cups.  

RHUBARB STREUSEL LOAF

– Streusel (recipe follows)
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1/4 cup ground pecans or walnuts
– 1 cup (2 stalks) fresh rhubarb
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1/3 cup orange juice
– 2 large eggs
– 2 cups flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 350 F.  

Prepare Streusel; set aside.

Brush an 8-by-4-inch or 2 4-by-7-inch loaf pans with melted butter and sprinkle with ground nuts. Set aside.

Rinse fresh rhubarb stalks to remove dirt. Trim off ends and remove any stringy pieces before slicing into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and softened butter. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add orange juice and eggs; beat at low speed just until mixed. (Mixture will look slightly curdled.) 

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend this into the prepared mixture, then gently stir in rhubarb. (Batter will be thick.) Spoon the batter into baking pan or pans and sprinkle lightly with Streusel. 

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is brown. Cool 10 minutes; remove
from pan. 

Makes about 12 servings.

STREUSEL

– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a food processor or large bowl, combine sugar and brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nuts and butter. Blend until it crumbs. 

Makes about 3/4 cup.


JUDY ZEIDLER is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.