Rhubarb-Strawberry Oat Bars

For Rhubarb-Strawberry Filling:

1-1/2 cups diced rhubarb (you may use frozen rhubarb in this recipe)
3/4 cup diced strawberries
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to make a slurry

For Oat Crust and Topping Mixture:

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces (diced)

Tip: To finely 'chop' almonds, place them in a plastic zipper bag and crush them with a large, flat object such as a meat mallet. 

Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Cut 2, 8 x 16 inch pieces of parchment paper and press to fit pan, leaving an overhang on both sides to use and handles for lifting (or you may use a non-stick spray). 

To make the Rhubarb-Strawberry Filling:

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, until rhubarb is tender. Add the cornstarch/water mixture to the rhubarb-strawberry mixture and cook while stirring for about 2 more minutes or until nicely thickened.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine the oats, flour, sugars, chopped almonds, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the diced butter and mix into the oats mixture with your fingers until entire mixture is crumbly and well blended. 

Press half of the oat mixture into prepared pan.  Top with rhubarb-strawberry mixture.  Sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture over the top and press down lightly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely and remove from pan with parchment 'handles' and cut into squares (cut in half, then in half again on each side). Or ,cut squares in pan and remove individually.