Here in New York City, strawberries arriving at the farmers market signal the arrival of summer and all the glorious fresh fruit waiting just around the corner. The simplest and often tastiest way to enjoy them is to pluck the stems from the top, and pop them in your mouth. Every now and then, I get fooled by a batch of berries that smell intoxicatingly sweet, only to bite into them and find my taste buds crestfallen. When that happens, there are a few things you can do to coax some flavor from your berries — jam and pie are usually at the top of my list. A more hands-off approach is roasting them. The oven does most of the work. The sauce can then be used as syrup for pancakes or a topping for sundaes, stirred into some plain yogurt for an inexpensive and healthier fruit-flavored version, or my other favorite — stirred into some sparkling water or seltzer for a summer spritzer.
Roasted Strawberry-Basil Sauce
1 pound (454 grams) strawberries, stems removed and sliced
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated, natural cane sugar
6 basil leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides.
Add the strawberries, sugar, basil and lemon juice to the pan. Toss everything to coat the strawberries. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Carefully lift the parchment, making sure not to spill the juices. Pour the strawberry sauce into a glass jar. Seal tightly and let cool completely. Store in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to two months.
Paleo-Friendly Version: Swap in 1 1/2 tablespoons (31 grams) raw agave nectar for the sugar. Follow the directions as listed.
Make It Your Own: Try experimenting with different herbs. Mint, lemon thyme and even rosemary would pair perfectly with the flavor of the strawberries in place of the basil.