Here in California we have a long and delicious strawberry season. Our own garden produces from late spring through the summer but the bumper crop across California hits in late April and early May. In fact there is a whole business model in central California of “corner strawberry stands” where the strawberries are grown on a small patch of land near the corner of a busy intersection. They are harvested each morning and sell in a little hut until they sell out that day. Right now is the beginning of the boom season for all of those little huts as it is for early season strawberry gardeners.
As our crop has come in each year, we’ve experimented with different ways to use a mountain of strawberries. Strawberries are fairly perishable and we have lost many to our refrigerator so we do try to process them right away. This strawberry lemon concentrate concept (here) is one of those quick solutions. Roasted strawberries is another.
As with many fruits and vegetables, the process of roasting the strawberries adds depth to the flavor of the fruit. In this case, the balsamic vinegar plays with the flavor in interesting ways. You don’t really think “balsamic” as you eat these, you just think, “wow.” Of course, caramelization of fruit sugars has never hurt anything either. 🙂
As for using the roasted strawberries, the first thing you will want to do is pop them on top of some vanilla ice cream. There is no fruit syrup around that will compete with them. (Unless, of course, it’s some other fruit that you have waited eight months to enjoy again…)
Use them as a topping on a cake, filling in a pastry, or even over a bowl of oatmeal — anywhere you might use a syrup or jam.
However, don’t miss your savory opportunities. Serve this on the side as you would a chutney or salsa. It complements meat-centered dishes well and would be an excellent side to a highly-flavored vegetarian dish like tabouli. Use it as a base to make a strawberry dijon vinaigrette.
Here’s the first strawberry of the season, cataloged on Instagram. Instagram needs a “scratch and sniff” option. 😉
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