A vegan rhubarb crisp that is easy as pie to make. A gooey, jelly-like, tart rhubarb filling is topped with a golden, delicious, oat and nut crisp. Can be a gluten-free recipe. Perfect for breakfast or dessert.
I woke up yesterday, excited to bake up this sumptuous dish for my family: a gorgeous, tart-sweet Vegan Rhubarb Crisp that tastes good enough for dessert but makes a perfect breakfast.
I love rhubarb and I can’t get enough of it in the few weeks of spring that it’s available. It makes great recipes, sweet and savory, and it’s rather perfect in a rhubarb cake, a rhubarb pie or even a sweet rhubarb bread.
When I have too much of it on hand, lucky me, I turn it into a rhubarb jam.
I’d been longing to make a rhubarb crisp for a while, and I came across a Mark Bittman recipe that seemed really straightforward and yet sounded utterly delicious. It needed just a little veganizing, and I also used natural sweeteners like maple syrup and coconut sugar instead of white and brown sugar, making the crisp healthier and more breakfast-worthy.
In the end, it was truly the perfect breakfast, and it was kid friendly as well, because Jay guzzled it down. If you have a mind to, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, although the crisp itself is sweet enough and a great foil to the tart rhubarb.
Ingredients you will need for the perfect Vegan Rhubarb Crisp:
- Rhubarb, of course. If the stalks are thick or tough, you might need to peel them, the way you would peel celery. Younger stalks don’t need any peeling. The color of rhubarb tends to vary, with some stalks being a dark pink and others almost green. The more colorful stalks make your dish prettier, but don’t really affect the flavor, so don’t worry if you can’t find beautifully colored rhubarb.
- Lemon zest and juice. The essential oils in the zest add a welcome je ne sais quoi dimension to the recipe.
- Maple syrup. I love the rich sweetness of maple combined with the tart flavor of rhubarb. There’s just a small quantity of maple syrup, so it doesn’t really take away the tartness. What it does, though, is that it takes away the edge off the tartness.
- Coconut sugar: I use coconut sugar often in place of brown sugar. It has a rich, deep flavor and it’s said to be healthier than refined sugars because it has a lower glycemic index and is more slowly absorbed by the body, making it more diabetic-friendly than regular sugar. Important to remember, of course, that it is still a sugar and therefore should be eaten in moderation.
- Vegan butter. I usually use oil in baking cakes but for pies and crisps I do prefer butter for the flavor. In this crisp, the butter is an important ingredient and not one I’d leave out.
- Unbleached all purpose flour. You can totally make this entire dish gluten-free by using gluten-free all-purpose flour. Or make it even more healthy-ish by using whole wheat flour. Keep in mind that whole wheat won’t crisp as much.
- Cinnamon adds a tremendous hint of flavor without overwhelming in this crisp. Use nutmeg for a great variation, or even a dash of ginger. I love the rhubarb-ginger combination.
- Rolled oats. These go into the crisp. If you are doing this gluten-free, make sure you use gluten-free oats.
- Pecans. These really take the crisp into sublime territory, adding richness, nuttiness and even more healthiness into the mix. Sub with walnuts for equally good results.
How to ensure you get a perfect Vegan Rhubarb Crisp:
- Use the right kind of baking dish. Cast iron is terrific. I have an enameled cast iron casserole I used, but an 8 or 10 inch cast-iron skillet would work too. If you have neither, use a regular gratin or baking dish.
- Make sure to peel your rhubarb if it is tough, even if it means losing the pretty pink outer layer. It won’t affect the taste to lose the color. Cut your rhubarb into even pieces. I like a smallish cut, about 1/2 inch.
- Cut the butter into smallish pieces, and make sure it is evenly dispersed through the crisp topping. If you work with a food processor, it will do the trick for you.
- Make sure you add the nuts to the food processor at the end, and once you do, don’t overprocess. You want the nuts to be in small pieces, not in a powder, so you can feel them crunch between your teeth when you eat the crisp.
- Make sure you let the crisp stand for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven to let the juices thicken, otherwise it will seem a little watery.
I will leave you now with the recipe. If you can still find rhubarb in your market, I hope you will try it. Otherwise file it away for next spring, when it stages a return. I don’t let spring ever pass me by without cooking with this delicious ingredient at least once, and neither should you.
Vegan Rhubarb Crisp
- Food processor, baking dish or a cast iron skillet, bowl for mixing
- 5 stalks rhubarb (about 5 - 6 cups)
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 6 tbsp vegan butter (cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
- 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (use gluten-free all-purpose flour for a gf version)
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar (turbinado sugar is a fine substitute. Or use brown sugar)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (try nutmeg or ginger for a slight variation)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup pecans
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Toss the rhubarb with the lemon zest and juice and the maple syrup. Lightly grease the baking dish or cast iron skillet and place the rhubarb in it in an even layer.
- Make the crisp by adding all ingredients to the food processor except the pecans. Pulse a few times until the mixture becomes grainy and the butter is evenly dispersed.
- Add the pecans to the food processor and pulse 2-3 times more until the pecans are chopped up into smallish pieces but not powdery.
- Scatter the topping over the rhubarb in an even layer.
- Place the baking dish in the oven (I always place a baking sheet under the dish when I bake pies or crisps in case some of the juices bubble over). Bake 50 minutes until the top is golden-brown and the rhubarb is bubbling from the sides.
- Remove to a rack and let stand 15 minutes before serving.