Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Dessert's a Little Bit Different: Vanilla-Roasted Strawberries with Red Wine Reduction

I absolutely LOVE strawberries...during warm months, I buy at least one package a week. I usually avoid buying strawberries during cooler months since they're usually not as sweet or as red as the ones I buy locally in summer. However, I found some really pretty strawberries on sale at the grocery store last week, so I bought a package. Then I set out to find a way to enjoy them for dessert on a cool Texas evening. 

I happened upon a really nice recipe at Cooking Light's website...strawberries that were roasted with vanilla bean, butter, and brown sugar. They're served with a warm with a sauce made from the reserved strawberry juice, red wine, and lime juice. I tweaked the recipe ever-so-slightly, subbing lime juice and zest for balsamic vinegar...and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sauce to bring a bit of warm spice to the finished dish.

Vanilla-Roasted Strawberries 
with Red Wine Reduction
adapted from Cooking Light

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400. Melt 2 tbs. butter in a medium-sized baking dish. I used a glazed ceramic baker that I have, but I 9-inch pie plate would work well too. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and stir into the butter. Place the vanilla pod in the pan as well.

Step 2:  Slice the green stems off of 24 strawberries. Place the berries point-side-up into the vanilla-butter mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup light brown sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until most of the sugar is melted and the strawberries have softened and given off some of their juice.

Step 3:  Let the berries rest for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan to a serving bowl. Pour the juices into a small skillet over med-high heat. Add 3 tbs. red wine, 2 tbs. lime juice, the zest of the lime, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture becomes like a syrup. 

Step 4:  Pour the red wine reduction over the strawberries in the serving bowl and give a gentle stir to combine. These strawberries are very versatile. You could eat them as is, or you could also serve them over waffles or Greek yogurt for a fantastic weekend brunch. However, I served ours over vanilla ice cream for dessert.

This dessert was so good! Roasting brings out the sweet-tart flavor of winter strawberries...they retain their shape nicely, but they're soft inside. The reduction has flavors of strawberry, red wine, citrusy lime, and brown sugar...and the vanilla bean and cinnamon provide a bit of warmth in the background. The combination of all these flavors just! It paired perfectly with the vanilla ice cream, but I plan to make another batch to serve over waffles for Breakfast for Dinner later this week. 

This is a fantastic recipe to have in your culinary bag of tricks. It's made with a few kitchen staple ingredients, and it comes together in a flash. It's simple enough to whip up on a weeknight for dessert...and fancy enough to serve company at the fanciest dinner party. You could easily substitute Grand Marnier for red wine to boost the citrus flavor of the lime juice and zest.

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