Last year, strawberry season was unconscionably short (looking right at you, Mother Nature), and this year threatens to be not much better.
The dilemma? A short post-pick shelf-life coupled with a short growing season, plus a craving for strawberry shortcake that just won’t. go. away. leads me to over-buy, every single time.
The solution to extra strawberries that are ever-so-slightly past their prime? Roasting. A long stint in the oven turns the bright, tart, cheek-pinching little strawberry into the rich, syrupy vixen it longs to be. Beyond macerated, beyond jam or compote. And roasting with a touch of sweet booze? Now you’re talking.
This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson, natural foods cook extraordinaire and author of one of my favorite cookbooks and food blogs. Leave it to Heidi to save the day from wasted strawberries. Spoon over shortcake, poundcake, French toast (or my favorite, vanilla bean ice cream).
8 ounces small to medium strawberries, hulled
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon port wine (I’ve also used Cognac)
A few drops balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
Use a rimmed baking sheet or large baking dish for this recipe—you don’t want the juices running off the sheet onto the floor of your oven. If you are using a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper.
Cut each strawberry in half. If your strawberries are on the large side, cut them into quarters or sixths. Add the berries to a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Pour this over the strawberries and very gently toss to coat the berries. Arrange the strawberries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast for about 40 minutes, just long enough for the berry juices to bubble and thicken, but not long enough for the juices to burn. Watch the edges of the pan in particular.
While still warm, scrape the berries and juices from the pan into a small bowl. Stir in the port and balsamic vinegar. Use immediately or let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.