From Colorado gardens to your table: Fresh cherry rhubarb tart

Christy Rost, public television show chef and author, shares a recipe with ingredients that come fresh from her Swan’s Nest vegetable garden in Breckenridge, Colorado. Rost says began integrating rhubarb into her personal stash just a few years ago and that it successfully sprouts at her mountain home despite strong temperature variations

“I added rhubarb to my garden when a friend brought me two transplants he dug out of a garden in Georgetown, Colorado,” says Rost. “One plant produces tall, thick stalks each summer, while the other produces thinner, more delicate stalks, but both are flavorful and easy to grow, even at an elevation of 9,300 feet.  By early June, when mountain nights can still be frosty, my rhubarb is already growing like crazy and doesn’t seem to mind the cold nights.”

This year, she began harvesting the agreeable, perennial vegetable in early-July and pairs it with sweet, dark cherries that are prolific at the summer farmer’s markets.

“This combination of tart rhubarb and sweet cherries, mixed with a little sugar and tucked between layers of buttery pastry, continues to yield beautiful, flavorful summer tarts that are easy to make and are the perfect finale to any gathering,” says Rost.

Lovely ombre stalks fresh from the garden. Photo credit: Christy Rost

Rost also gives us some tips on how she constructs the perfect pie pastry:

“The secrets to making great pie pastry are ice water and very cold butter, as well as a minimum amount of handling,” says Rost. “I use a food processor, which makes creating pie pastry quick and easy, and ensures I don’t over-mix the butter.”

Using tiny bits of ice-cold butter is what Rost attributes to making her pastry both tender and flaky. As the pastry comes together in the food processor, or when making it by hand, you should be able to see little flecks of butter as you roll out the dough. If the butter is fully mixed into the flour mixture, the result is a tough piecrust.

“Tastes so good makes a grown man cry. Sweet cherry pie.” Photo credit: Christy Rost

Fresh Cherry Rhubarb Tart

Pastry:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Filling:

  • 3 cups fresh cherries, rinsed and pitted (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into ½-inch thickness
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon clear sparkling sugar or 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 10-inch round tart pan with removable bottom

Place 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is pea-size.

Add almond extract and 4 tablespoons ice water, and process at low speed until the pastry is crumbly. If the mixture appears dry, add the remaining ice water and process just until the pastry comes together and forms a ball. Remove the pastry, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes or until it is cold.

Place the cherries and rhubarb in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, stir the sugar and flour together until they are well blended, gently stir the mixture into the fruit, and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and on a floured pastry cloth or counter, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle. Fold the pastry in half and transfer it to the tart pan. Unfold the pastry, fit it into the pan, and trim the excess pastry by running a rolling pin over the top of the tart pan. Gather the trimmings together into a ball, roll it out, and cut the pastry into ten ¾-inch wide strips using a pastry wheel or knife. Place 5 or 6 strips of pastry across the top of the tart, then turn the tart one-quarter turn and place the remaining pastry strips across the top to form a basket weave pattern. Trim the edges of the pastry.

In a small bowl, whip the egg and water together with a fork. Brush some of the egg wash over the pastry strips and along the edges of the tart and sprinkle them with sparkling sugar.

Place the tart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown, the filling is bubbly, and the rhubarb is knife tender. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool.

Yield:  one 10-inch tart

*Header image courtesy of Rick Souders