17 March 2013

Vegan Viands #7: Rhubarb Bars

Because it's not quite officially spring and because my weather for the next week looks more like early February than mid-March, I got really excited to see a sure sign of spring at the grocery store this afternoon: RHUBARB! 

Rhubarb is one of the first plants to emerge from gardens (although given the time of year, my rhubarb was likely grown in a green house) so it's a harbinger of more growing goodness to come. Bitter on its own, with poisonous leaves, rhubarb is delicious when cooked up with sugar in something sweet. Although many people use it for pies, I'm a good Minnesotan, which means I eat bars. These bars were something that appeared at many a spring/summer party (and sometimes "just because") while I was growing up. Thus, when my mom gave me this recipe, the fact that I only had to sub in vegan butter to make the recipe wholly vegan was awesome. 

Since I'm on spring break this week, making a whole batch of these means most of them will be heading to school with Shana tomorrow. I'm sure her teacher friends won't mind.


Rhubarb Bars
Ingredients for filling
3 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. water

Ingredients for crust/topping
1 1/2 c. oatmeal, uncooked
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. vegan butter (2 sticks)
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions
Preheat oven to 350
1. Combine all ingredients for crust/topping using a pastry blender until coarse. 
2. Press 2/3 of crust/topping into lightly greased 9x13 glass pan, bake 10 minutes. 
3. Mix cornstarch and water, combine with rest of filling ingredients in a sauce pan. 
4. Boil until the rhubarb has mostly broken down and mixture is thick. 
5. Pour filling over partially cooked crust and sprinkle the rest of the crust/topping on top. 
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. 

Helpful Hints
  • I really have had the best luck with a glass pan, but I don't know why. 
  • I also have the best luck cutting if you cut them after they've been in the fridge for a bit. 
  • If you'd like you can also add 1/2 c. chopped walnuts to the crust/topping mixture. 
  • If you don't have a pastry blender, you can use a large fork or something similar. It will take longer, but it will work. 
  • Did you know that rhubarb is categorized as a vegetable in Europe but a fruit in the US? Also, did you know that the reason there is confusion about what goes in to a "strawberry rhubarb pie" is because some people make a pie with strawberries and rhubarb, but some people are simply referring to a variety of rhubarb called "strawberry rhubarb"? Cool, huh?!
  • These are pretty sturdy bars, which makes them great for pot lucks, bake sales, or other functions where a food needs to hold up. 

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