Summer is my time of excess. Too many choices at the market means more greens, more zucchini, more berries than I can tackle in a week. Weekends become packed with adventures: hiking, kayaking, boating, picnics, road trips. Typical weekend tasks are crammed into weeknights, and suddenly on any given Thursday night I realize I have a fridge full of produce that needs to be used before Saturday morning’s farmer’s market… and that I haven’t vacuumed in two weeks… and that I haven’t slept properly in two weeks, either. Time for another G&T.
Believe me, this is not a complaint. Instead, here are a couple ideas to help you use up that glut of rhubarb you’ve got in the backyard or those strawberries you just had to bring home. Last Friday morning, I picked a flat of strawberries. For whatever reason, I had made up my mind that I needed a full flat. Had to have it. Then I had a million errands to run for the weekend’s canoe-and-camping trip, and I realized at 4pm that I had no clue what to do with the berries and the rhubarb on my counter… but I was leaving for the weekend. So I fell back on an old mantra- “When in doubt, roast.” Sweet or savory, you’ll cut through the bulk quickly, and if nothing else, it’ll prolong fridge life.
(I don’t think that’s actually an old mantra, I think I just made that up. Go with it anyway.)
Think of these more as “guidelines” than “recipes.” Cardamom could replace the vanilla bean, or sherry could replace the brandy, or lemon juice could replace the balsamic. Be creative.
This is a simplified version of Heidi Swanson’s Roasted Strawberries from her Super Natural Every Day. The balsamic vinegar really makes these an irresistible treat that should be put on top of pretty much everything. My favorite so far: mascarpone spread across a gluten-free butter (Ritz-style) cracker and topped with a huge dollop of these strawberries.
Makes a generous 1 cup (1/2 pint)
3 cups strawberries, cleaned and quartered or sliced
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brandy (or similar liquor or liqueur, or apple juice)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
Olive oil, approximately 1 tablespoon
Preheat oven to 350. Clean and chop strawberries. Stir in maple syrup and brandy. Brush olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, then spread out strawberries and shake lightly to even out. Roast for 35-45 minutes, carefully stirring with a rubber spatula 2-3 times while roasting. Remove from oven to cool. If using balsamic vinegar, pour over the hot berries and lightly stir in. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve warm over shortcakes, biscuits, yogurt, or toast. Store extra in a jar in the fridge for a few weeks, though they won’t likely last that long.
I first saw this idea on Orangette a few years ago, and I tweak it slightly every summer. I use less wine and chop my rhubarb more finely, which results in a thicker, almost stew-like rhubarb. This preserve is amazing with tangy yogurt, some soaked or fermented oats, and a small handful of toasted nuts. But like Molly, I tend to eat it straight from the jar, cold, with a spoon.
Makes approximately 1 cup (1/2 pint)
3 cups chopped rhubarb (roughly 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 cup cane sugar or caster sugar
1/4 cup red wine
1/3 to 1/2 vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 350. In a pie pan or bread pan (or similar baking vessel), stir together the diced rhubarb, sugar, and wine. Split the vanilla bean and nestle in both halves- no need to scrape out the seeds, most of them will be jostled out during cooking and stirring. Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times throughout. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving or moving to a jar for the fridge. I personally prefer this chilled, but I imagine it would be good over warm baked oatmeal or on toast too.