Monday, June 7, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

When spring finally arrives every cooking magazine is ready with a recipe for strawberries and rhubarb. I have always wanted to make something with rhubarb but never had the chance. This year I was determined to use it in something, and of course I chose strawberry rhubarb tart. It's a classic.

I was looking at the June 2010 issue of Living magazine and there was a delicious looking fig and strawberry tart inside. I decided to use this recipe as a guide for my strawberry rhubarb dessert.
A lof of fruit tarts, such as apricot, use almond in their filling. This fig and strawberry tart recipe uses hazelnuts. Because my daughter is allergic to peanuts, and by association susceptible to tree nut allergies, I cannot use either.

Until you have a family member with a severe food allergy you will never know how hard it is to keep them safe. I did not either until I found out that my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts - I learned the hard way. Having said that, I really appreciate my friends who remember about my daughter's condition and care about what kind of food they cook when they invite us over, especially for potlucks. It means a lot to me.

A lot of cereals, cookies, bread, and kid snacks have both tree nuts, peanuts, or both as an ingredient. Even when they don't have these ingredients in them, a lot of them are made in a facility that processes peanut and tree nuts.

I was afraid to feed my daughter until I learned to live with the food allergy. I was frustrated at times because it was hard for us to go out and eat spontaneously. I also felt sorry for my daughter and of course blamed myself thinking it was because I ate a lot of peanut butter or simply my fault for giving her bad genes in the first place.

After dealing with (and still dealing with) these overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and mother's guilt, I was determined to make sure that I would not let my daughter miss out on anything that we all take for granted and in order to do so I would need learn how to cook and to bake a little bit more.

Ok, back to the strawberry rhubarb tart. I was trying to think of a hazelnut substitute and immediately chickpeas came to mind. I know it's a little unconventional, but bear with me for a moment.

First I needed chickpeas in an easy to use form, like a flour, so I turned to Whole Foods. I found them but of course it was made in a facility that uses tree nuts so I bought dried chickpeas. I thought that I could grind them at home by myself, big mistake. They are incredibly hard when they are completely dry and ungrindable. I happend to have canned chickpeas so I decided to use them instead. I used a food processor to chop them finely. They were pretty moist so I put them on a pan and dry roasted them. I hoped they would be a good replacement for hazelnuts. Here is the end result photo.

Now, you can't tell from the photo but I burned the tart little....and in my attempt to hide it I sprinkled chopped strawberries and mint leaves from my garden all over for a nice touch of color.

Here is the recipe of my peanut and tree nut free Strawberry Rhubarb Tart adopted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine June 2010 issue, Fig and Strawberry Tart.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar and salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cups (or more if you want, but I really needed only 1/4) of cold water

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cups of finely chopped (almost flour like) canned and drained chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 stick of butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbs of rum
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs ofpotato starch (corn starch is fine too)
  • 8 oz of strawberries (halved)
  • 2 stalks of rhubarb (chopped in 1/2 inch pieces - next time I will use more)
How to make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour and sugar together, then add butter and pulse until butter becomes the size of peas. Add water and pulse until the dough starts to hold together.
  3. Take out the dough and make a disc. Refrigiate it for at least 1 hour. (I am impatient remember? I only put it in for 30 minutes and it was fine).
  4. Roll the dough to make it fit your tart pan. (usually it is 9 or 10 inches round)
  5. Poke the bottom of the tart crust and then put aluminum foil and pie weights and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove weights and bake 5 more minutes or so.
  6. Let it cool. Leave the oven on.

Make the filling:

  1. Mix strawberries and rhubarb with lemon zest.
  2. Using a food processor, chop chickpeas finely and then dry roast them in a pan on the stovetop.
  3. Mix eggs, butter, sugar, brown sugar, rum, potato starch in a food processor. Then add the chickpeas.
  4. Pour the filling in the cooled crust and spread evenly. (Since my filing was too moist, I did not spread much. At this point I should have known that my filling would be too moist).
  5. Top with strawberries and rhubarb.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes and then decrease the temperature to 325. Bake about 1 more hour. I ate with unsweetened whipped cream since the tart itself was really sweet.

Making this strawberry rhubarb tart was also a good excuse to use this beautiful handpainted porcelain mold I bought from anthropologie store long time ago. It added a little extra authenticity to what was a somewhat unconventional recipe. Bon Appetit!


  1. Chickpeas substitute, that's very clever! You are so creative, and you are a great mother. I dont'think Enna is missing out any good food at all. =)

  2. So, what's the verdict, was it good?? I imagine it must be otherwise it would not be posted :) It looks delicious, I can almost taste it................

  3. Hi Jiale,

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I was surprised that chickpeas came to my mind too but somehow it did.

    When I think about her future, I feel bad cuz whenever her frineds say "Let's go to Thai restaurant, etc" she cannot go with them since most of them uses peanut so I feel bad but there is no cure for the allergy so I gotta do what I have to. :) Thank you!!

  4. Hi Yvonne,

    It was good. :) I mean using almond or hazelnut is probably better, but chickpea was not a bad substitute to replace the texture in a way. It was a bit mooist but it might be because of strawberries and rhubarbs so I will try to make a different fruit tart and see. I should bring you some when I bake next time. ;)

  5. How do you think of these substitutes? I would have no idea what to use. You are a wonderful mother for being able to provide such a variety of foods for Enna. You do such a great should be praising yourself. :) Looks yummy.

  6. Hi Danielle,
    Thank you so much for your very nice comment. I was touched. Thank you. :)
    One day I was thinking how I could make pesto sauce without using pinenuts since my daughter cannot have pinenuts either. Then chickpeas came to my mind first. I thought that will be great to use as a substitute for not only pesto sauce but also for other recipes. I have never made pesto with chickpeas but I will try. :)

  7. Ai, if you ever want homegrown rhubarb let me know...I've got it all over my garden and NEVER do anything with it!
    Totally get the food allergy thing! And everything that goes with it. Good call on the substitution! Not sure about pesto from about pumpkin/sunflower seeds?

  8. Hi Georgia,

    Thank you Georgia, I love to get some rhubarb from you! I love to make something with them again.

    I think Pesto sauce with chickpeas will be good, no? I will make some this weekend and let you know how it tastes. :)

  9. I want to eat those pictures. :)

  10. Taji,

    Thank you!! I am trying to take better pictures but I am still middle of learning. Your comment motivates me to take good photos and post so thank you! :)

  11. I enjoy your blog so much, that I’m passing on a reward!

  12. Hi DJ,

    Thank you so much for the reward! I am very happy to receive it! Thank you!! :D