Fact #1: Strawberries are at the top of my list of favorite summer fruits.
Fact #2: Strawberry jam is at the bottom of my list of least favorite jams.
Fact #3: My favorite strawberry-monger was selling half-pound baskets of Saturday's strawberries yesterday, at the rock-bottom price of 1 euro per basket.
Fact #4: I am powerless in the face of cheap, delicious, local fruit.
Fact #5: I bought a pound of strawberries and though they were cheap, they were also at peak ripeness and needed to eaten or processed that same day.
Fact #6: While I probably could have eaten all the strawberries in the course of the day, I exercised exemplary restraint and ate only about a third. Standing up. With my fingers.
It didn't seem worth it to make jam out of the remaining strawberries. Especially since I don't particularly love strawberry jam. (Does anybody else think it tastes a little like Band-Aids? Just me?) Instead I took to the internet, which informed me that everyone and their mother has moved on to roasting their surplus strawberries, duh, and so I decided to follow suit.
I hulled the strawberries and cut them in half lengthwise, then dropped them in a large baking pan. I added about 1/4 cup of sugar (I'm guessing that I had about a 3/4 pound of strawberries) and one teaspoon of vanilla paste, something I acquired at a TJ Maxx in Newton Highlands on a recent trip to Boston and am still not entirely convinced by. Mixed up and then spread out evenly, the strawberries went into a 375 F oven (190 C) for an hour. I rotated the pan halfway through, but only sort of shook the strawberries a little instead of stirring them.
At the end, the scent of roasting strawberries had filled the house. The fruits had given off a gorgeous claret syrup, but had stayed intact - shrunken, but intact. I let them cool, much to my son's chagrin, and this morning we ate them spooned over bowls of cool, creamy yogurt. The flavor of the strawberries had concentrated and deepened, of course, but gone darker too, into a richer, almost savory place. And the texture of the strawberries was wonderful - with just the barest heft, the seeds still crunching pleasantly in my teeth, the flesh silky and tender. They made our bowls of breakfast yogurt taste like dessert.
When you make this (not "if"), you will probably want to adjust the amount of sugar you use. The strawberries I had were incredibly sweet and delicious on their own and more than 1/4 cup of sugar would have been too much. But you don't want to use too little sugar, either, because that strawberry syrup that collects at the bottom of the pan is pretty great stuff.
Fact #7: We need more strawberries.