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Roasted Strawberries

2011 May 23
Strawberry season in the Midwest poses a maddening dilemma. Our weather is far too mercurial to depend on a long growing season. In fact, it is not uncommon to go from a damp and chilly, 50°F early May straight into a 90°F Memorial Day weekend, which stresses both human and strawberry alike.

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).

Roasted Strawberries

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.

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2 Responses
  1. Darlynne permalink
    June 17, 2011

    What a great idea. Is there a point in the roasting process where the strawberries could be dry enough to use in baking? I’ve struggled with how to incorporate strawberries into my chocolate chip cookie recipe and nothing–not dried, not freeze-dried–has given the results I’m looking for. I wonder if I should try this idea and see how the berries turn out. Thanks!

  2. leafandgrain permalink*
    June 19, 2011

    I think you should. I’m predicting the result, at the very least, will be great with ice cream, even if it doesn’t work out in your cookies.

    I think I would turn down the heat to 300 or 325, and go for the long cook. I’ve dried out tomatoes with a really long roasting – about an hour or so. The result is not at all leathery, but tender and sweet.

    Give it a go and let me know how it turned out. Sadly, for me, strawberry season is over. [wah!]

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