Raspberry-Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata

rhubarb crostata baked

What happens when you put a classic American pie filling ~ strawberry-rhubarb ~ inside a classic Italian crostata crust? You end up with a lovely springtime dessert.

Rhubarb isn’t really associated with Italian cooking ~ at least not to my mind. The only way I’ve seen it used in Italy has been in the form of a digestivo. (If you know of other ways in which Italians use rhubarb in the kitchen, please share in the comments ~ I’d love to know.)

In the mean time, we can probably all agree it makes a great pie filling, especially when blended with strawberries. Rhubarb’s astringent flavor is tempered by the sweet perfume of the berries ~ and here I’m talking about real in-season strawberries, not the flavorless cottony ones from the supermarket. Rhubarb and strawberries are a perfect example of the popular cooking adage, “What grows together goes together.”

So how did raspberries end up in the mix? Well, for obvious reasons I’ve had a lot of Prince rolling around in my head lately. Raspberry Beret was the running loop as I was assembling this crostata. A quick rummage through the freezer yielded some raspberries I’d frozen last summer. I grabbed a handful and scattered them on top of the strawberry-rhubarb filling, my own miniscule tribute, I suppose.

I worried briefly that the raspberries might make the tart too…tart. But that was not the case. Crostata dough is sweeter than pie dough, and buttery, just right for this sharp, ruby-hued-very-berry filling. For serving? A scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dusting of powdered sugar ~ and a generous helping of Prince (if you can find him).

A note about cooking rhubarb: For years I’ve been using Nigella Lawson’s method of tossing rhubarb with sugar and roasting it in the oven. It’s from one of her early books, Forever Summer. She employs this technique to make a rhubarb fool (one of my favorite recipes of hers). For this crostata, I folded the still-hot roasted rhubarb with small halved strawberries. I then strained out the juice, which would have made the crostata too soupy, and used the fruit for the filling. (PSA: Don’t toss the liquid ~ I reduced it to a syrup on the stove top and have been drizzling it over yogurt and granola for breakfast.)

Makes 1 (9-inch) crostata, 10-12 servings

Raspberry-Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata

Sweet, buttery crostata dough makes this Italian riff on an American classic stand out. A handful of raspberries, tossed in for extra tartness, gives the filling floral undertones and a glorious, deep red color. Garnish with a small scoop vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, or simply dust with powdered sugar. Hat tip to Nigella Lawson, whose technique for roasting rhubarb in her book "Forever Summer" I've been using for years.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (see Note)
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
  • 1 batch Pasta Frolla
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (no need to thaw if frozen)
  • Powdered sugar for serving
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

Instructions

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Combine the rhubarb and sugar in an oven-proof baking dish (I use Pyrex) and toss to thoroughly coat the rhubarb. Cover with foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the rhubarb is completely soft. Remove from the oven and gently fold in the strawberries (the rhubarb pieces will collapse). Scrape the mixture into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to strain out the juices. Reserve the pulp and juices separately. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the large portion into an 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Leave the overhang.

Spread the strawberry-rhubarb filling into the pastry-lined pan and scatter the raspberries on top. Roll the remaining piece of dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. With a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch-thick strips and arrange them in a lattice pattern on top of the filling. Trim the overhang slightly and fold it over to create a rustic rim. (Alternately, for a neater rim, you can trim off the overhang; cut more strips and arrange them around the edge of the crostata to form a rim.)

Bake the crostata for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Set the crostata on a cooling rack and let cool for 30 minutes; the filling may look runny but the juices will be re-absorbed as the crostata cools. Remove the ring of the tart pan and let the crostata cool completely before transferring it to a decorative platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you like.

* * * * *

NOTE To make vanilla sugar, bury a piece of vanilla bean in your sugar cannister and leave it there to infuse the sugar.

Makes enough dough for a 9- or 10-inch lattice-top crostata

Pasta Frolla | Pastry for CrostataProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Every home baker has a recipe for pasta frolla, or basic pastry dough. This one is mine. It's richer, silkier, and less rustic than typical pasta frolla, with lots of butter, and confectioners' sugar in place of granulated. The dough rolls out beautifully and is easy to patch if it tears. Be sure to chill the dough thoroughly before rolling, and use a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking. It can be made in advance and stored overnight in the fridge or for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon or half a lemon and half an orange
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks

Instructions

Put the flour, sugar, salt, and citrus zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight ~ until well chilled.

Roll out and cut as directed in individual recipes, such as lemon-ricotta crostata; and double blueberry crostata. Save the scraps to make cookies (see NOTE).

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NOTE Re-roll any scraps and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

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24 Responses to Raspberry-Strawberry-Rhubarb Crostata

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland April 26, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    A fantastic combination and lovely pie! I love baked goods that combine rhubarb with strawberries, but I have never tried adding raspberries to the mix…

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      Raspberries add a little more tartness, but also a lovely floral quality. I really loved this combination Rosa.

  2. ciaochowlinda April 26, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    Your crostata looks so tempting Domenica. I love the combo of flavors. My late husband’s aunt (from Abruzzo) introduced me to rhubarb more than 40 years ago, with a strawberry rhubarb pie (decided not Italian) and I’ve been hooked every since. Love your idea of saving the excess liquid for yogurt too — and the Prince tribute as well.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

      Thank you Linda. My Rhode Island relatives grew rhubarb ~ I think it grows better up in New England than here in VA, where it tends to be smaller and green more than red. Still tasty, though. The stalks I bought were very red, so they were probably from out of state.

      • jeanne April 29, 2016 at 10:51 am #

        Just as there are different varieties of apples, pears, garlic, potatoes, there are different varieties of rhubarb cultivated and selected for color, size, sweetness. Try Victoria Red or Ruby if you crave the red color. There may be newer red types on the market too. Ask at your market, home growers love to talk about their favorites and can advise you which variety works best for a particular application.

        • Domenica Marchetti April 29, 2016 at 11:30 am #

          Excellent ~ thank you for the information Jeanne. My little farmers’ market starts up next week. I’ll ask the fruit and veg purveyors about which kinds they grow.

  3. Marguerite April 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    This is on my list when I can get fresh berries and rhubarb from the farmers mkt. in the meantime I saw your double blueberry. Do you think I could use frozen blueberries?

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

      Yes, absolutely. You don’t even need to thaw them Marguerite. 🙂

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way April 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    I am definitely going to have to make your crostata. I’ve never made one — shame on me. Long ago and far away at our first house we planted rhubarb and our one son loved it. I didn’t know this until he was grown and asked about a rhubarb pie. Instead of just an ordinary rhubarb pie I’ll make your crostata. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

      My pleasure, and yes, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

  5. Paula Francese April 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    Thanks for this Domenica. For many decades my family’s favorite pie has been raspberry-rhubarb, recipe given to us by a friend. I don’t know why I never thought of including traditional strawberries. We just got in a groove with the rhubarb-raspberry thing. This year, we’ll try your version.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

      And I’m going to have to try your raspberry-rhubarb, Paula. I can aleady taste it. Years ago when I lived in Michigan I used to make blueberry-rhubarb pie with Michigan blueberries. So good. I haven’t made that one in a long time. I can already tell it’s going to be a summer of pies and crostatas. 🙂

  6. rozpaige April 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    I was just looking at my rhubarb growing in my garden and thinking of baking something! I’d love to try this, especially with the crostata dough! Perfect thoughts of Prince and Raspberry Beret while singing (and maybe groovin’) in your cucina! I love Nigella’s recipes too! Thanks for sharing Domenica, especially for a spring favorite of my family’s — rhubarb!

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      I hope you give this one a try, Roz. I think you’ll like it. Is the rhubarb in SC red? or green? I’m trying to figure out whether heat/climate contributes to the color. I bought the rhubarb for this crostata at the supermarket, but last year I bought some at my VA farmers’ market and it was green.

  7. Chiara April 26, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    confesso di non aver mai assaggiato il rabarbaro, devo rimediare, questa crostata ha un aspetto delizioso !

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

      Ciao Chiara, infatti io non ho mai avuto rabarbaro in Italia ~ solo nel liquore. Esistono le ricette con rabarbaro, oppure no? Grazie!

  8. Marisa's Italian Kitchen April 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm #

    Hi Domenica, I love the fact that it is made with a crostata dough! Strawberry and rhubarb are a perfect combination 🙂

    • Domenica Marchetti April 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

      Benvenuta Marisa, and thanks! Yes, I’m always torn between pie and crostata (I love both) but crostata seems to win more often. I took a peek at your blog ~ it’s beautiful and I look forward to exploring it more. Cheers, D

  9. Elvira April 27, 2016 at 5:44 am #

    Ciao Domenica, I haven’t seen rhubarb used much in Italy, other than liquors and digestives. It’s actually not that easy to find in the markets either. SO what did I do? I planted one in the garden, now I can make all the “Domenica Rhubarb Crostatas” that I want! <3

    • Domenica Marchetti April 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

      This confirms what I had been thinking, Elvira. Seems to me rhubarb is more of a northern European ingredient…but you have brought it to Rome. Brava. Un abbraccio!

  10. elisa April 27, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    Unfortunately I never cooked rabarbaro, because I always drank the liqueur instead, after looking at your pie I have to try a different approach! I love your pasta frolla recipe, I will definitely make it next time.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 28, 2016 at 9:20 am #

      Thank you Elisa. If I find more rabarbaro I’m going to make liqueur.

  11. Laura | Tutti Dlolci May 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    Just gorgeous, I love that handful of raspberries. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • Domenica Marchetti May 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      That means a lot coming from you, Laura ~ you’re such an incredibly talented baker! xo

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