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My brother in law has been planting a number of vegetables in the back garden of the family home for several years, ever since my father became unwell and wasn’t able to do much gardening. Vegetables papà and mamma didn’t like or know much about started appearing in the garden – corn, rhubarb and hot chili. The rhubarb (rabarbaro in italian) in particular was quite baffling – mamma loved the corn, they both started adding chilli to everything but they never really warmed to the idea of rhubarb. My father is no longer with us but I think I have found a way to bring my mother around.


rhubarb tart-italy on my mind blog2

I love rhubarb – it seems to be available most of the year and is delicious stewed with sugar and water and eaten with yoghurt for breakfast. I don’t use it much when I make cakes though. Mamma had bought me a rectangular cake tin with a removable base several months ago when we were shopping and I had yet to use it. I had wanted the tin for some time as I thought would be ideal for baking with slices of peaches, pear or rhubarb, all lined up. I also wanted to bake something I could take to mamma, since the tin had been a gift from her. And it was about time she ate a cake with rhubarb. Whilst looking for a suitable recipe, I found this recipe from SBS – a rhubarb, pistachio and orange blossom frangipane tart. It was essentially a Middle Eastern cake – not ideal to take to my mother who at 86 is not likely to warm to ingredients like orange blossom water. So I substituted the orange blossom water for orange zest and kept the rest the same. It is moist, not too sweet and looks so pretty with the green pistachio nuts throughout and the pieces of rhubarb on top. I made the thick sweet syrup and I served it with mascarpone on the side – and you know what? When I took a piece of the cake to mamma, she just *loved* it, rhubarb and all.

rhubarb cake-italy on my mind-foodgawker

rhubarb tart-italy on my mind blog 3

Rhubarb, pistachio and orange tart

150 g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
150 g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ lemon (small), rind finely grated
1 orange (small), rind finely grated
150 g (2/3 cup) almond meal
35 g (¼ cup) plain flour
70 g (½ cup) pistachios
130 g rhubarb (1 and 1/4 cups), cut into 5 cm (2 inch) lengths
icing sugar, to dust
mascarpone, to serve
Rhubarb syrup:
1 cup caster sugar
330 g (3 cups) rhubarb, chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar and until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Add vanilla, orange and lemon zests and beat until combined. Add the almond meal and flour and fold into the mixture. Fold in the pistachios.

Line the base of a lightly greased rectangular tart tin with baking paper. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth surface with a spatula. Arrange pieces of rhubarb on top and press in gently. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and the cake feels firm to touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To make the rhubarb syrup, combine the sugar, rhubarb, and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Allow to cool then dust with icing sugar.

To serve, drizzle with rhubarb syrup and serve with mascarpone.



  • Cecilie says:

    Save some for me 😀

  • Jo O'Mara says:

    I have never really had rhubarb. I think it is because rhubarb leaves are poisonous, and when we would get extra leaves from the greengrocers to feed our rabbits I would always have to check through and make sure there were no rhubarb leaves. This looks like something to really enjoy though and might be my first taste!

  • Sally says:

    An absolutely beautiful tart. Such a touching back story. I adore rhubarb… we picked young stalks and ate them raw dipped in some sugar when we were children. Sadly one of the only things that are difficult to get hold of here in Dubai (unless very sad and wilting). Those bunches of freshly picked stems are beautiful.

  • I also love rhubarb, but our Italian (and Greek) friends are baffled by it. One went so far as to refer to it as medicine – by which I think he was referring to the fact that it is used in a digestivo and not eaten as a fruit. I’ve never thought to combine pistachio with rhubarb – it sounds great. Must give it a try.

    • hope you enjoy it. I hear you re what Italians and Greeks think about rhubarb – my mother stills refers to it as “that weedy thing growing in the corner of the garden that your brother in law likes”!

  • Michelle says:

    That’s the most delicious-looking rhubarb dessert I’ve ever seen.

  • Beautiful photo as always!!!

  • What a beautiful tart. I love the way you have arranged the rhubarb. It reminds me of one I do every Christmas with apples, and I just love the frangipane filling. Brava!

    • Grazie cara Adri, it is that rectangular tin that is just perfect for arranging slices/pieces of fruit. It is funny that you wrote that you make cakes with apples for Christmas – because we are in a different hemisphere we make them with peaches/plums. Ha, I love those differences! X

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