One of the first perennial plants of spring in my garden is rhubarb. I eagerly wait for the dark green leaves to unfurl, and the ruby, red stalks to push through the chilly soil. Originally a plant from the eastern part of Russia, rhubarb is widely grown throughout Europe and North America.
Rhubarb’s leaves are considered toxic: they contain too much oxalic acid to be human or livestock food. The stalks are a source of vitamins A and C, and in earlier days, were used to make a spring tonic that was rich in the minerals that would have been lacking in the darkness of winter.
We enjoy rhubarb in a variety of ways: sauce, jams, juice, muffins and coffee cakes. For a special treat, I like to make a Rhubarb Spring Tart.
The rich butter crust, topped with a cheesecake-like layer of rhubarb and finished with sour cream is very comforting and very rich. Adding a bit of grated orange peel to both the crust and the filling mellows the richness, and complements the tart flavors beautifully.
Don’t let the number of steps and mixing bowls deter you from preparing Rhubarb Spring Tart. This is really very easy to make, and worth the effort. For a five-star restaurant style dessert, cut the tart into 8 pieces and serve with a piece of fresh mint. Enjoy!
Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at
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Rhubarb Spring Tart
Makes 8 rich servings
Butter a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Prepare the crust and rhubarb filling as follows:
½ cup butter
1 Tbsp. plus ½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1¼ cup flour
1 pound rhubarb sliced into ½-inch chunks
Cream the butter, 1 tablespoon sugar and orange zest in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 cup of flour and mix until the dough just forms. Press evenly onto the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate.
Combine ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup flour with the rhubarb, toss, mixing well. Place on top of crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees F.
Remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Prepare the cream cheese filling. Pour filling over the rhubarb and bake 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and spread topping evenly over the tart. Chill for several hours before serving.
Cream Cheese Filling & Topping
8 oz. cream cheese ½ cup sour cream
½ cup sugar 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
Beat in bowl with mixer. Whisk together in bowl.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 430 calories, 6 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams fat, (0 grams trans fat), 188 mg. Sodium, 2 grams fiber.
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