Food + Drink

The Perfect Springtime Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Polenta Crisp

Perhaps like Sam Sifton, you’ve spent your winter making Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette Pepper and Lime Yogurt from James Beard Award Nominee Gjelina—I know I have. But spring has come to the markets in California and brought with it asparagus, peas, fava beans, strawberries and more, which means it’s finally time to try out the seasonal recipes I’ve had bookmarked for months. What was at the top of my list? None other than Gjelina’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Polenta Crisp, which I have already made twice.

Rhubarb is a vegetable that tends to fall into the “love it” or “hate it” category. I fall firmly into the “love it” category, whether paired with strawberries, roasted, pickled, or turned into a shrub. Raw, it resembles a more colorful celery, ranging from pale green to deep red depending upon growing conditions. Although you can eat it raw, the tart taste has lent to frequent pairings with strawberries, as in this crisp.

Like all crisps, this recipe is very easy to make and can work with other fruits throughout the year; what sets it apart from many, however, is the inclusion of polenta rather than the more traditional oats. The polenta provides both a crispness and sweetness that highlights the tang of the rhubarb. One note: This recipe makes a rather large portion, if you are not feeding a crowd, you might consider cutting it in half.

Gjelina-rhubarb and strawberries

Strawberry-Rhubarb Polenta Crisp from Gjelina

SERVES  10 TO 12

Serve this when summer strawberries are at their finest. Their sweet, concentrated juice bubbles up and oozes over the sides of the baking dish.


  • ½ cup plus 3 Tbsp [155 g] unsalted butter,cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup [120 g] all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup [80 g] quick-cooking polenta
  • ¹⁄³ cup [65 g] sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  • 2 qt [1.4 kg] strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 large stalks rhubarb, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup [100 g] sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F [190°C].

To make the topping: In a food processor, combine the butter, flour, polenta, sugar, egg, baking powder, and salt. Pulse ten times or until a crumbly dough forms. Refrigerate until you are ready to use. (The topping can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

To make the filling: In a large bowl, gently combine the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt.

Pour the filling into a 10-by-14-in [25-by-35.5-cm] baking dish. Crumble the topping over the top. Bake until the crisp is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 40 minutes.

Put a generous scoop of the warm crisp into each dessert dish to serve.

Gjelina Rhubarb recipe


Amy Cleary

Amy Cleary

Amy Cleary is the Marketing and Publicity Manager for Food and Drink. She still misses her grandmother’s rhubarb patch.
Amy Cleary


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