Strawberry, Rhubarb and Banana Crostata
Looking for something different to do with your rhubarb this spring? Try this Italian crostata recipe. It comes from the Tra Vigne Cookbook, Michael Chiarello’s Napa Valley restaurant. The toasted aniseed in the crisp really compliments the tart rhubarb flavor. Be sure to try to use extra ripe red bananas, which are more custardy than their yellow cousins. The polenta made for a dense, cookie-like crust. But it was still a bit crunchy, like undercooked rice. Any suggestions on how to soften the polenta? I added vanilla, ginger and cardamom to the recipes, all flavors that subtley enhance that rhubarb flavor. Remember that rhubarb acts as a thickener here to sop up the berry juices. If you omit the rhubarb, add a thickener, like tapioca pearls. Here is the recipe in full:
Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Banana Crostata
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello
- Prep Time:
- 40 min
- Inactive Prep Time:
- hr min
- Cook Time:
- 1 hr 0 min
- 4 to 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cups pastry flour (1/2-pound)
- 3/4 cup polenta (1/4-pound)
- 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
- Large pinch fine salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 full pint basket large, ripe strawberries, about 1 pound, hulled and halved or quartered
- 2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
- 1/2 orange, zest freshly grated
- 1 lemon, zest freshly grated
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Vanilla gelato or sweetened whipped cream, for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the topping, measure the flour, polenta, sugar, salt, baking powder, and anise seeds into a food processor or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse or mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the egg into the well and toss the egg and flour together lightly and thoroughly with your fingers until evenly mixed. The mixture will not adhere in the manner of a dough but will clump together if pressed in your palm. Set aside until needed.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Turn mixture into a 2 quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the filling in an even layer. Do not press down. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch the drips and place in the oven.
Bake until the juices are bubbling up around the topping and the top is crisp and golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm with gelato, if desired.
Chef’s note: If you choose to bake the dessert in individual dishes, cut the baking time by about half.