June 04, 2009

Rhubarb-banana tart


It's time for the annual "rhubarb ritual." This refers to the moment I realize there are still bags of rhubarb in the freezer that need to be used up. But then I think, "why would I want to use old, frozen rhubarb when there's new fresh rhubarb growing in the yard. Sigh. Another year's crop of carefully washed, cut and individually frozen on baking sheets before being packed into freezer bags for the winter rhubarb is destined for the compost. Why don't I use it? Why do I freeze it? Why do we eat rhubarb only once a year? (Twice if there are leftovers!) And what will this year's ritual rhubarb dish be?

Truthfully, I love rhubarb cobbler and I never get tired of it - how could I when I only make it once a year? But this year I wanted something a little different, so I decided to try combining the nicely tart rhubarb with very sweet bananas and raisins, just to see what would happen. I also wanted to use the very cool tart pan I was so excited to find at a garage sale a couple of years ago but have probably only used twice. It seemed appropriate to combine the once-a-year ingredient with the once-a-year pan.

Well, the rhubarb plant got a workout this year because I wasn't 100% satisfied with the first tart, and decided to try again. It's not that we didn't like it - we ate the whole thing - but it wasn't quite right. The crust was too hard and there wasn't enough banana. Looks like we'll be eating rhubarb more than once this year! I do want to warn you that I like things tart, and this tart is tart is tart is TART.

Rhubarb-banana tart (11" tart pan)
  • 4-5 heaping cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 level tablespoons coconut flour (this is for thickening the rhubarb juices. Coconut flour is very absorbent so measure carefully. You don't want to soak up all the juice.)
  • 1/2 cup sucanot (more if you like it sweeter) or other sweetener (I almost used agave syrup or maple syrup)
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut (optional)
Pressed pastry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, raw or toasted
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sucanot
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water
  1. Pulse the oats and walnuts in a food processor until they look like cornmeal.
  2. Add the flour, salt and sugar, and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  3. Add the oil and pulse to incorporate. (I'm talking quick buzz buzz.)
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of water and pulse a few times. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is still crumbly but sticks together when you press it with a finger.
  5. Lightly spray the pan with oil and, with floured hands, start pressing the crust into the bottom of the pan. You want a thin but not too thin, even crust. When the pan bottom is covered, nudge the remaining mixture onto the sides with the backs of your fingers. At this point I start to worry that there won't be enough, but there always is! When the crust is complete, place the pan into the fridge (or freezer if you have space).
  6. Toss the rhubarb with the coconut flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  7. Mash the bananas. If you mush them up a bit with your fingers while still in the skin, they will mash right up when the skin is removed. Mix the bananas and raisins into the rhubarb, taking care to incorporate completely. Arrange the filling in the crust.
  8. Bake in a preheated 450˚F oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350˚F and remove the pan from the oven so you can sprinkle the top with coconut. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape.
  9. Cool. Eat. I like my tart chilled.
The unbaked pie going into the oven

Okay, so you're probably wondering if making this tart was a lot of time-consuming trouble. If you do it like I did, the answer would have to be "yes, about four days worth." First I went to get the tart pan but it wasn't in the drawer under the oven, where I've always kept it. In fact, it was nowhere to be found, and no one in the house had a clue what could have happened to it. (The usual.) I searched everywhere with no luck. I finally decided that I really do need this pan and walked to the local kitchen store (Orange Tree Imports on Monroe St.) and found the exact pan on sale for only $12.99. Cool. The problem was it came in two sizes (9" and 11") and being a Libra, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to decide which size to get. By the time I finally had a pan, it was late and I didn't want to make the tart anymore so it was put off until the next day.

The next day I started gathering my equipment and ingredients and discovered my 1/2 cup measuring cup was missing from the baking cupboard. Are there gremlins living in the house? What is going on? I did a thorough search of the pull-out trays in the cupboard, and in the process knocked over the dog's full water dish, which is on the floor near the cupboard. I could go on and on about how I couldn't sprinkle coconut over the tart because my husband used the coconut up making burned granola and didn't add it to the shopping list blah blah blah. But why bother; you get the picture. At one point my son bopped into the kitchen and remarked, "It seems to be taking you an awfully long time to make that." . . . And then I made it again two days later. It probably won't take you long at all.


Dangerous chemicals in "natural" productsI prefer as many of the products I use to be as safe as possible as well as cruelty free. I've been using Mrs. Meyer's dish liquid and other household cleaning products because I was assuming they were natural and safe, but the dish liquid tested out to have an alarmingly high level of 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap had the highest levels of the carcinogen at an alarming 204 ppm (parts per million), ten times higher than any other product’s current results in a recent study. Other products familiar to health-oriented shoppers were also found to have high levels of this dangerous chemical.

Two studies (the original, and a follow-up to determine improvements), "looked specifically at products that come in contact with the skin. The studies were commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group with over 500,000 members, and were overseen by environmental health consumer advocate David Steinman (author of The Safe Shopper’s Bible). The independent third-party laboratory, Bodycote Testing Group, known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing. The products selected for the study are available at popular retail outlets."

About 1,4-Dioxane
"1,4-dioxane is a petrochemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer" under Proposition 65. Due to its toxicity, many consumers would not expect to find it in "natural" or "organic" branded personal care products. The contaminant 1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of the ethoxylation process, which is a cheap shortcut companies often use to provide mildness to harsh cleaning ingredients. 1,4-dioxane is also a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant, according to the California EPA, and it is a significant groundwater contaminant. While previous studies have revealed the presence of 1,4-dioxane in baby, children's and adults products and those mislabeled as "organic" and "natural", this latest study shows the toxin is being significantly reduced as many brands reformulate."

You can find more information about the studies at the Organic Consumers Association Web site and also a link to a file listing specific products to choose or avoid as well as ingredients to avoid in products not on the list.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking


  1. That's a scary post! Not the tart, which looks awesome.....

    You are like me. I've been using pesto I made last year before our basil grows up!

  2. Claire, You're USING the pesto. I went out and picked new rhubarb. Maybe it's not too late ...

  3. Oh man, this tart sounds fantastic! You made me remember when I was growing up and we would wonder what happened to *missing* items. We always blamed it on a gremlin we named Yahooty.

  4. I am guilty of this too. I bake bread when I still have tons in the freezer...
    This is a fantastic rhubarb recipe. The tart looks gorgeous.

  5. Diann,
    Well, the measuring cup gremlin turned out to be me - but the pan is still missing!

    Thanks for the compliments. And, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who sometimes overlooks the freezer.

  6. Dare I say I'm interminably comforted by the fact that you have the same rhubarb ritual as I do? Every year I feel SO BADLY about composting my frozen rhubarb. And yet, every year, I end up freezing some -- and then NOT using it.

    Why don't I use it? Well, I want to feel noble about it, so I attribute it to my love for seasonal foods. Frozen rhubarb in February just isn't as cool as fresh rhubarb in May/June...

    That's kewl, right? :)

  7. Lo,
    I like your reasoning! Off to the compost.

  8. Oh how I wish I had a garden! I *love* rhubarb. And zucchini. And herbs. And everything else you can grow in a garden! I can get it all at the farmers market, I know, but it just isn't the same...I will get some rhubarb to try your tart, though!


  9. Ooo intriguing I've never seen banana and rhubarb together! Thanks for the information on chemical in natural products.

  10. Courtney,
    I hope you have the garden of your dreams someday!

    I'd never seen rhubarb and banana together either, but after I made it I googled it just to see and of course there were recipes out there. I can only feel clever if I stay off the Web. :D

  11. A great new combination Andrea. I also freeze rhubarb, but I use it more often. I love it in tarts, crumbles, with strawberries, in jam, in the potato salad I love to make, which is gorgeous and I am thinking about making some ice cream.

  12. Jacqueline,
    Ice cream was one of the things I was considering when trying to choose what to make. I hope you make some!

  13. I'm so glad it isn't just me who freezes stuff, feels very thrifty and virtuous, and then ends up putting it on the compost. At least that way I feel it's not gone completely to waste, though!
    I'm glad I've found your blog. We seem to have even more than that in common!
    The rhubarb tart looks great, though I have to admit to a VERY sweet tooth... So not THAT in common!

  14. Penny,
    Thanks for visiting my blog - I've been enjoying reading yours, too.

    It seems there are many of us who freeze things for the compost!

  15. that's really scary about the chemicals. I'm not so happy to see that seventh generation dish liquid was on the bad list. at least it is off it now. grumble.

    tart looks good. I understand the rhubarb love, yet slackerness to avoid cooking it. I have it too. I love those recipes that keep getting stalled by missing ingredients, etc.

    hope to see you at bingo if you can make it.


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