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TSP Original: Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette

MUSIC PAIRING: Band of Horses, Everything All The Time

For the love of everything good in this world. WHEN is it going to get warm in NYC? Considering I sweat like a trucker, I usually want the cold weather to last as long as humanly possible but man, I’m ready to not wear my winter coat any longer. Please and thank you. 

Since Spring doesn’t want to be my friend outside, I decided to force it to be my friend inside. I love me some strawberries but when they’re not quite in season, they’re not exactly tasty. I decided to force them into season whether they liked it or not. 

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I eat a lot of salad. I mean, a lot. Sometimes it actually makes me angry because with each bite, I wonder why it doesn’t taste like pizza and then I’m just irritated. However, then I remind myself that I eat salad so that I can eat more actual pizza and not feel so guilty. 

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In order to make salad a little more exciting, I decided to create a vinaigrette that consisted of more than just the usual lemon and olive oil that I dress my salads with. Maybe I’m not a creature of habit after all! Look at all this rebellious, inventive madness I’m throwing out, what with all the let’s make strawberries that aren’t in season taste good. I know, I’m wild.

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Roasting fruit is one of my favorite things. It makes the whole house smell like fresh jam which makes me want to live on a farm baking homemade biscuits every morning for my handsome farmer husband. Oh, to dream. When I remembered that I’m supposed to be thinking of salad and not biscuits, I got back to work on this here vinaigrette and I was glad I did. Cold weather be damned, it’s definitely Spring in my house.

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Why Band of Horses? In less than two weeks, Allison and I will be out west in San Francisco visiting our lovely friend, Kyra. As luck would have it, she’s not far from Petaluma – where I’ll be in another friend’s wedding over the weekend! – so we get to stop over for the night and have an evening full of good food and wine together before heading for a weekend full of wedding fun. When I first visited Kyra several years ago, she and her sweet boyfriend introduced me to Band of Horses by way of a super intimate impromptu show. I’d never heard of the band but dang, what a way to be introduced to them for the first time! As I was testing this recipe, I kept feeling so excited to see Kyra and Ted soon so I decided to channel them here in my kitchen with some Band of Horses.

Recipe by: Valerie Albanese

Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 16-ounce package strawberries, tops removed and halved
  2. 2 tablespoons high quality maple syrup
  3. Zest of 1 lemon
  4. 3/4 cup water
  5. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  6. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. Few grinds cracked black pepper
  9. 1/4 shallot, roughly chopped
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  11. Small bunch fresh mint (I used 10 small leaves)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. A toaster oven works fine here, too.
  2. Taste your strawberries! Sweetness levels vary greatly with produce of all kinds. My berries were quite tart as you’d expect with them not fully in season yet. If yours are on the tart side too, toss them with two tablespoons of maple syrup and the lemon zest. If your berries are already satisfyingly sweet to you, you don’t need to do a thing to them other than add the lemon zest before they go in the oven. As a side note, the maple syrup is not used here for strong maple flavor; it’s used as a natural sweetener. Don’t like maple syrup or don’t care if your sweetener is natural? No problem! Try honey, agave, brown sugar, white sugar…whatever you like.
  3. Transfer berries to a sheet pan and roast for 50 minutes to one hour. You’re looking for caramelization and deeper color on the berries. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
  4. In a blender, mini food processor or with an emulsion blender, combine remaining ingredients. Taste once well blended and adjust seasonings as needed.*
  5. You can eat this vinaigrette with anything you see fit. I tossed mine with fresh baby spinach, feta and almonds for a nice Spring salad as I had those ingredients on hand and wanted to use them up. Not a salad person (ahem, Ms. Bryant!)? You could use it as a marinade for chicken or pork or brush it on steak kebobs while they grill. You could even mix it with goat cheese to make a sandwich spread. Lots of possibilities here!
Notes
  1. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s completely adaptable to your tastes and preferences. Vinaigrettes are very forgiving and as long as you taste as you go, you’ll know whether you want ‘a little more of this or a little less of that’. They’re a wonderful thing to get you in the kitchen cooking by taste instead of focusing only on a recipe, so have fun with it!
  2. One thing to note is that a vinaigrette should taste stronger on its own than it does eaten with other things so that when you toss it with greens or whatever else, the flavor doesn’t get too diluted. So, don’t be scared if it’s too “vinegar’y” or strong by itself when you taste it. That’s a good thing!
The Salty Peach http://the-salty-peach.com/

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