My dear ones! It’s been another while since being in the blog space and I’m happy to be here with you, in the glory of summer unfolding. I love having the time to craft these posts, since they are a true outpouring from my heart to yours, in the hopes that it will tether us to this time and place, land, season, and true nourishment. Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Crumble Bars is one of the special ones, that has been bubbling away in my consciousness since last summer.
I was cycling on the boardwalk at the beach near my home last August, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of fuchsia – the unmistakable pink of rose hips. Ahhh this gorgeous bushy plant is one that I first became familiar with in Denmark, where they bloom along the shores of every beach, punctuating the salty summer air with rose perfume. And here it was, at the water’s edge in Ontario, the very last petals dropping in the slanted summer sun. I knew I was too late to do anything with them at that point, so the idea-seed was planted for next year. Which is now, right on time!
They say what grows together goes together, so for this recipe I waited for the rose hip to bloom, and then checked out what the other plants were peaking in my garden; strawberries and rhubarb! What a divine and classic combination! I couldn’t wait to get to celebrating this triple-blessing of flavours.
Early Summer Stars
Peak-season strawberries are nutritional super stars. They’re loaded with vitamin C, and good amounts of manganese, folate, and fibre. Their total antioxidant capacity is extremely high, and as we learn more about this summer delight, there is evidence proving its positive effects on cardiovascular health. After consumption, there is less platelet aggregation, less lipid peroxidation and an increase in free-radical scavenging – meaning those antioxidants get to SNACK!
Rhubarb is also a high-fibre food, which is essential for digestion. Fibre is exclusively a plant nutrient, as plants grow it for structural support. Animals have bones, so fibre is not a significant part of their composition. Therefore, increasing our dietary intake of plants in comparison to animal-based foods means an increase in our fibre intake. Makes sense, right?
So much of our nourishment depends on the healthy passage of food through our digestive tract. Without the fibre in things like strawberries and rhubarb, it is impossible for our digestion to take place in a balanced way. With imbalanced digestion comes the risk of poor nutrient absorption, and along with that comes compromised metabolism, immunity, even our mental health. The risk of most chronic diseases is lowest when whole plant foods, like a simple serving of strawberries and rhubarb, are plentiful in the diet. These bars also contain high-fibre oats, almonds and almond flour, so basically what I am saying is eat a lot of these.
The Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Compote
I knew that I wanted the seasonal ingredient to really shine in this recipe, so I started by making a compote with the strawberries and rhubarb, adding a kiss of vanilla and rose. The results were like, mind-blowing, people. I’ve made this compote several times now, simply because it is delicious on everything and in so many ways. So far I’ve slathered it on the Revolutionary Pancakes with almond butter, hemp, salt, and even more fresh strawberries. I made popsicles with it (blended this with more strawberries and froze it). And warmed slightly over vanilla ice cream? Unreasonable. The fact that it comes together in under 15 minutes is also motivating for me – I know I’m not in for a huge project to make it, even though the end result *feels* like such a luxurious extra in my life. Make a triple batch now and freeze it I say!
If you want to get ahead, you can make the compote up to seven days in advance. And yes it lasts that long in the fridge. So convenient.
You can use store-bought, instead of homemade rosewater in this recipe to skip a step, but I understand that sourcing store-bought might be just as much of a challenge for some. Surprisingly, I can find bottled rosewater at my local, small-town grocery store, so check with an employee at your closest market since you might be surprised they stock it! Heath foods stores are a good bet too. And if you can find fresh rose / rose hip flowers, then harvest them sustainably and make your own rose water. Recipe and two methods here. As a last resort, order online!
The Crumble Bars
The top and bottom layer of these bars are a slight upgrade from my original crumble bar recipe with blackberries and hazelnuts, back in 2014 (!). This time I made more of a cookie base, kind of like a giant shortbread cookie with almond flour, which turned out to be more moist and easier to cut than the one just made with oats. I really love this change, and hope you will too! The crumble topping is exactly the same except for swapping out the brown rice flour for almond flour, since it’s yummier / fattier / moister. And since knowing that almonds are in the strawberry and rose family (Rosaceae!) it only made sense.
Enjoy this literal slice of summer, friends and lovers. These Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Crumble Bars are truly a moment, captured. And I hope you choose to savour it.
Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Crumble Bars
Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Compote
- 400 g / 14oz rhubarb
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 300 g / 10.5oz ripe strawberries
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. rosewater to taste
- 2 cups / 200g rolled oats divided (gluten-free if desired)
- ¾ cup / 70g almond flour
- ¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 60 g expeller-pressed coconut oil ghee or butter
- ¼ cup / 60ml pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup / 100g rolled oats
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. expeller-pressed coconut oil ghee, or butter
- ⅔ cup / 100g almonds
- ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- 3 Tbsp. almond flour
Start by making the compote. Bring water and maple syrup to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Roughly chop rhubarb and add it to the pan, stir and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes, stir again and use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the rhubarb. If it’s still quite tough, cover and continue to cook until almost soft. While the rhubarb is simmering, wash and stem the strawberries, then roughly chop. Add them to the soft rhubarb, stir well and cook covered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, and smash the mixture with the back of your spoon, until it’s your desired texture. I like mine pretty chunky. Stir in the salt, vanilla and rosewater. Adjust the flavours to suit your taste. The compote will firm up as it cools. Measure out 2 ½ cups / 625ml of compote and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. In a food processor blend 1 ½ cups / 150 grams of oats on high until you have a rough flour, like coarse sand. Add almond flour, salt, and baking powder, then pulse to combine. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Pulse until evenly moist, then fold or pulse in the whole oats. The dough will be quite firm and sticky.
Turn the dough out into a lightly greased, or parchment-lined 8" x 8” / 20 cm x 20 cm glass or metal pan and press firmly, especially around the edges – it helps to wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
While the base is baking, make the crumble topping. Without cleaning the food processor, add the all the ingredients for the crumble, and pulse a few times to mix. You can chop the ingredients as finely as you like, but I like mine pretty chunky.
Remove the base from the oven, and spread the compote over top in an even layer. Crumble the topping over, and place back in the oven for another 30-35 minutes, until the top and bottom are golden brown, and the middle is a bit bubbly.
Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Say thank you and enjoy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for five or six days. Freeze for up to 3 months and let warm for a few minutes before enjoying!