I try to bring something new and different to all the foods that I post about, but sometimes I just crave something simple and classic. Such was the case when I found some gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb at the farmer’s market this weekend.
I couldn’t let you guys down with yet another strawberry rhubarb crisp/crumble/cobbler/crostata though, so I rummaged through the fridge in search of some inspiration. It came in the form of two off-white blocks sitting on my cheese shelf.
The first was a brick of Callebaut white chocolate. My initial thought was to melt and substitute it in place of the butter and sugar. While I’m sure it would have been quite tasty, I’ve already done white chocolate and strawberries before and was ready for something different.
Enter the second off-white block, a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Since most desserts contain a nominal amount salt, I wasn’t too concerned about the saltiness. But would the savoury parmesan cheese work in this sweet this dessert? There was only one way to find out.
After only 10 minutes of prep and 20 minutes in the oven, I had my answer, and it’s an emphatic YES! In fact I’m now wondering what other desserts I can integrate parm-reg into. The smooth nuttiness of the cheese compliments the butter and brown sugar perfectly and it’s the perfect counterpoint to the sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb.
There’s isn’t enough cheese in the topping to make it a prominent flavour, so in case you’re wondering: no, it doesn’t taste like Parmesan cheese. I would actually be impressed if someone were able to pick the flavour out. What it does add is some creamy earthy notes to the topping, while helping it crisp and hold together better. It also infuses umami into the crust, bringing out some hidden flavours in the strawberries and rhubarb.
Stawberry Rhubarb Parmesan Crisp
1 lbs strawberries cored and quartered
1 C rhubarb chopped
1/4 C sugar (more if your strawberries aren’t ripe)
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 C old fashioned oatmeal (not the quick cook kind)
1/2 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs melted unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Toss the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar and cornstarch in a glass 9×9 baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the oatmeal, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and brown sugar until combined. Stir the vanilla into the melted butter then pour this mixture over the oats. Quickly stir together until it’s all wet and clumpy.
Scatter the mixture over the strawberries then put the baking dish in the oven until the strawberries are bubbling and the top has crisped (about 20 minutes).
Enjoy with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.