A big, vegetable-rich garden is something I have always dreamed of. Many people in my extended family were farmers, so perhaps the desire is in my blood. My parents, however, did not share this passion. They made a half-hearted effort by tilling a tiny plot of land behind our white Colonial and planting a few tomato plants, Indian corn (a result of my badgering), gladiolas, and rhubarb. I still dream of a large garden. We now have a small one and grow mainly greens--lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, and herbs-not the scores of squash, eggplant, and carrots that I'd like to plant, but as every major undertaking in life, it takes time. I understand now why my parents grew rhubarb; it's easy to care for and grows well. This recipe for thick, crumbly bars uses only rhubarb, no other fruit to tone down the tartness, which is balanced by a sweet dough. The large pan size makes enough to share--and is a good excuse to use up that extra rhubarb from a bountiful harvest.
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Make the crust:
Put the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and run for about 20 seconds, or until the almonds are finely ground. Add the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar and pulse 12 times, or until combined. Add the butter and vanilla extract and run for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is thoroughly mixed and just starts to come together.
Put about half the dough, about 2 1/4 cups, in the prepared pan and gently press evenly over the entire bottom, using an offset spatula. Pour the rhubarb filling over the crust and dot with the 2 tablespoons butter.
Using your fingers, make some large clumps with the remaining dough and place them evenly over the rhubarb; sprinkle the rest of the dough crumbs over the filling so the entire surface is lightly covered with topping. Bake for 30 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is pale golden brown.
Let cool and cut into 2 x 3-inch rectangles. Use an offset spatula to remove the bars from the pan.