I raided the first growth on my rhubarb plant this weekend. I always have trouble doing this as I love the way the plant leafs out and takes over one corner of my herb garden. The huge green ruffled leaves and the rosy stems look so beautiful and signal spring and I hate to mess with that. But those first, thin reddish- pink stalks are so delicious the sacrifice must be made.
I love to make a simple compote with the first tender stalks, sugar and vanilla to stir into my yogurt in the morning. Or build on it by adding some dried cherries, diced shallots and a splash of white wine to serve with roasted pork loin. But I love the early spring rhubarb best in this free form tart.
While rhubarb is mouth puckering on its own I’m not a huge fan of rhubarb in any form that is syrupy sweet. Too much sugar, or honey or agave and it loses its zippy personality. With this galette the rhubarb retains a bit of a tart bite and that is why it works so well with the sweetness of the ice cream. Feel free, however, to adjust the amount of sugar, especially it you plan to eat the galette on its own.
In my herb/kitchen garden the rhubarb grows beside the French and English thyme. It may sound a bit strange to add a traditionally savory herb to ice cream and may be even more of a stretch to apply the old “what grows together, goes together” maxim but this does indeed work here. Not that the thyme is added in with the rhubarb itself but provides a herbal lift to the ice cream. Ice cream and thyme and rhubarb and buttery pastry? Unusual but delicious.
Rhubarb Galette with Thyme Ice Cream
The pastry for this recipe comes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties. It makes enough pastry for two tarts. Feel free to freeze the second pastry for a future fruit tart.
For the pastry (2 tarts):
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 lb butter, diced and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1 cup of sugar or more to taste
1 vanilla bean, split and pulp removed (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
zest of one orange (optional)
1 tablespoon of whipping cream
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar
For the ice cream:
2 cups (500 ml) vanilla ice cream
1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped thyme leaves
thyme flowers for garnish (optional)
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse 12 to 15 times or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running add the 1/4 cup of ice water all at once through the feed tube. Pulse until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Form into two disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Place one disk in the fridge and allow to rest for at least one hour. Put the other disk of pastry in the freezer for future use.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface until you have an 11 inch circle. Carefully transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
For the filling, combine the chopped rhubarb, sugar, vanilla bean pulp or extract and the orange zest. Mix well to combine.
Spoon rhubarb mixture into the centre of the pastry disk, leaving a 2 inch border. Gently fold the border up and over the rhubarb, pleating the dough to make a circle.
Brush the whipping cream over the top exposed pastry and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the rhubarb filling is bubbly. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes or so and then use 2 large spatulas to transfer the tart to a wire rack.
Meanwhile, allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for 20 minutes or so. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the thyme until well combined. Return to the freezer until ready to serve with the tart.
Recipe adapted from Canadian House and Home Magazine, May 2009.