Friday, August 19, 2011

Balsamic Strawberries

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

We had a refrigeration malfunction yesterday. Which is kind of a pain when you went big-shopping on Tuesday. As a result, I felt like we needed to get a bunch of that food into either usable condition or extended-life condition. What better way to do that than to add sugar? Oh, I know, let's add sugar and vinegar.

I've heard tell of these strawberries for a while and today with my fading strawberries and barely rejuvenated fridge, it seemed like the perfect time to try them out. I found several recipes that were pretty much identical except for the amount of balsamic vinegar which was used. It ranged from a mere teaspoon to a whopping 2 tablespoons. I tried both and decided I prefer to settle in the middle with 1 tablespoon. If you are afraid, start with a teaspoon and see what you think. It gives it a little kick and some complexity that strawberries with only sugar lack (for the record, I'm perfectly happy with strawberries coated only with sugar as well).

This can be eaten alone if you're sort of a strawberry pig like me. It can be used as a sauce on cakes, ice cream, or yogurt. It can rescue dodgy strawberries from their compost bin future. And it can impress your gourmet friends.

The best part about this, however, is that because of it I got my kids to consume fruit for dessert. Big deal, right? Not in this neighborhood. Fruit and fruit-like things have no birthright as desserts in this chocolate/ice cream/peanut butter obsessed family. So even though the fruit had plenty of added sugar, and even though I served it with a lovely heap of whipped cream, I feel the experiment a success. We can eat fruit in some form for dessert. We can call it dessert. And we can be excited about it. You should be too.

Balsamic Strawberries
Serves 4 (in a smallish sort of way)
Prep time: 1 minute
Cost: 1.05
(strawberries: .99, sugar: .05, vinegar: .01)

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 C sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
dash pepper (everyone swore this was completely awesome in every way, but I forgot it so I can't say)

Put the first three ingredients in a bowl. Mix gently. Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature. Some recipes said not to let it go for more than 4 hours, but mine sat all day and tasted good at the end of it. (For the record, I also tasted it at various points throughout the day and found that after the first hour or two there was little change in taste. I refrigerated them in our now working refrigerator after 4 or 5 hours.)

Right before serving, add a dash of black pepper.

Snark them up.

Note: You can stop there. However, there was a bit of vinegar sweet strawberry juice left (probably about 1/4 C). I kept it and plan to add a bit of olive oil and salt to it tomorrow and see how it tastes as a salad dressing. I'm betting it will be pretty good. It would also be a stunning glaze for chicken or fish. Oh, and while we're throwing out ideas, I sliced some peppers and let them marinate in it for an hour or so this afternoon and thought it did right by them as well. Think of the possibilities: cucumber, daikon radish--the sky's the limit.


Linked up to Sweets for Saturday

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