As harsh as rhubarb might be in its raw form — exceedingly tart and with a decidedly fibrous texture — rhubarb is capable of the most amazing transformation, if you add just the right amount of heat and sweetness. Which probably explains why the vegetable is so often paired with strawberries or other sweet fruit — slowly simmered into jams, pie fillings or ice cream bases — and enjoyed so frequently in desserts.
Reader Murray Zichlinsky of Anaheim can’t stop thinking about the rhubarb tart from Church & State in downtown Los Angeles. “It was scrumptious,” he wrote us. “I would love to re-create it.”
At once rustic and refined, the dessert starts with rhubarb stalks chopped into large pieces and slowly macerated with sugar to soften the texture and tame its astringency. After draining the pieces, they’re suspended in a delicate flan-like custard filling, and baked in a buttery almond pastry crust until the custard is set and the rhubarb is tender and silky, lightly sweet and with just a hint of tartness. A perfect dish for any rhubarb fan, no strawberries or other supporting players needed. The restaurant was happy to share the recipe, so you can savor the tart at home.