Sunday, June 28, 2009

Roasted Strawberry Compote with Vanilla Bean

There are few Monday afternoon activities that top walking down the street to my town's farmers market and picking up a basket of freshly picked, California-grown strawberries. I'm not sure what it is about the Central Coast area, but the powers of earth and awesomeness have collided and provided some prime strawberry-growin' turf.

I grew up in a small town in Northwest Washington State on a defunct raspberry farm. The area however, was not only well known for its raspberries, but also the strawberries, blueberries, and hazelnuts the fertile soil allowed to flourish. I remember many a day of going strawberry picking with my mother and sister to make jams, jellies, and whatnot. (Later in life we simply bought them in 5-gallon buckets from a local farm, but I still enjoy the memories of picking them by hand - though I'm sure I drove my mother batty while doing so.)

The strawberries from my childhood memories cannot even begin to compete with the berries they grow here. They are easily the best strawberries in the world. Still warm from the sun, plump and a deep garnet red. The flavor nearly explodes on your tongue - a burst of sweetness followed by the barest hint of tanginess. When I drive to the other farmers market in Monterey I have to buy at least one extra basket for the 10 minute drive home - they're impossible to resist.

I'm also sure that the people driving behind me can understand, though probably don't appreciate, the many strawberry hulls that go flying out my window as I drive along the coast.

I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times a couple months ago and decided I had to try it. When I pulled it out this week to finally make it I realized that it called for frozen strawberries. Needless to say I was not going to be using some nasty old frozen berries when I had these priceless gems sitting in front of me. Instead I just froze some of my fresh berries. It worked perfectly - and probably came out better and with more flavor than if I'd used storebought frozen berries.

This is delicious, you should try it. We ate ours on frozen yogurt for dessert and in crepes for breakfast the next morning, though the versatility in no way stops at those two dishes.

Also, should you ever venture into the Central Coast area - don't forget to try the strawberries.

Roasted Strawberry Compote with Vanilla Bean
adapted from Vegetarian Times, February 2009

5 cups frozen whole strawberries
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Coat 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Toss together strawberries, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean with back of knife, and stir into strawberries along with bean. Bake 25 minutes, stirring often. Remove vanilla bean before serving.


A Feast for the Eyes said...

I just read this post of yours! You HAVE to buy strawberries from "The Farm"! They are red, inside, and juicy and freshly picked. $24.00 for a flat-- day old's are $12.00 a flat! You don't need sugar. I just made strawberry balsamic jam (and blogged it). Your recipe sounds simple, and delicious. You are right, though-- we have some of the best berries on the planet!

cookiecrumb said...

What totally awesome photos! Jealous.

The Duo Dishes said...

Wish vanilla beans weren't so darn expensive! It's worth it though, especially for something like this.

Kevin said...

Roasted strawberries are so good! Add some vanilla bean and they would be even better!t

Jude said...

Hmm roasting strawberries. Now that's something I haven't tried before.
I hope you didn't hit someone with a hull in the eye socket while they're driving.

Anonymous said...

This is delicious i will try it.


Free Direct TV