You've got to admit this rhubarb recipe is really unusual. I love savory/sweet recipes, don't you? And this is a knockout served with roasted or grilled chicken. Kind of like a Thanksgiving stuffing with a spring twist. I'd never made it before, but I proceeded with confidence because I've never doubted anything coming from Sarah Leah Chase, whose recipe this is. Ina Garten does a scalloped tomato dish for which she gives full credit to Sarah and this is not the first time I've heard Ina credit Sarah with ideas and recipes.
Let me tell you a little bit about Sarah.
In the early 80's we spent some summers on Nantucket and it was there I was introduced to Sarah's specialty food shop and catering business called Que Sera Sarah.
The food was amazing. I could never make a decision about what to take home, so we always ended up with enough containers to feed the entire island. She ran this labor-intensive business through the 1980s before selling it, then she spent another 10 years catering, writing cookbooks, teaching cooking classes and traveling. (Including biking through Europe, about which she wrote two more books, Pedaling Through Provence Cookbook and Pedaling Through Burgundy Cookbook). Now married with a son, Sarah and her husband Nigel live on Cape Cod and are building a new business called Coastal Goods, which sells specialty salts from Provence, spices, herbs, and sauces. They do business with Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, and Whole Foods. I read someplace she is working on a new cookbook as well.
I have two of Sarah's cookbooks (plus The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook on which she collaborated.) and the pages are getting dangerously food-stained! You'll find her food eclectic, with a European influence and very innovative; I love her Moroccan-inspired recipes especially, but she doesn't neglect the old recipes (although usually with her own creative spin) and she always includes seasonal favorites.
Sarah has several rhubarb recipes which of course attracted me immediately, although I think her Bluefish Paté was one of the first recipes I ever tried in her first book. I still serve it. A lot. I posted her rhubarb muffins a while back and today I'm going to introduce you to this fabulous spring dish: Sarah's Scalloped Rhubarb.
From Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase
5 cups fresh rhubarb (cut into 3/4 inch chunks)
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups Pepperidge Farm corn-bread stuffing crumbs (I was unable to find this brand and used another similar product)
1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces, roughly cut in largish pieces
1/4 cup cassis liqueur
Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter a 10 or 12 inch gratin dish or shallow casserole. In a mixing bowl toss together the rhubarb and sugar.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until quite soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the onion from the skillet and combine with the rhubarb. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and add to it the rhubarb and the corn bread crumbs and nuts. Stir to combine well.
Spread the mixture in the prepared dish.
Drizzle the cassis evenly over the top and bake until the rhubarb juices are bubbling and the crumbs are lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.