1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 pints strawberries, hulled and cut length-wise into 1/4 inch thick slices (small strawberries can be halved or quartered)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
Chopped nuts or ground peppercorns (optional)
Bring the vinegar, granulated sugar, and lemon juice to a simmer in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the syrup is reduced by half (to approximately 3 tablespoons) about 3 minutes. Transfer the vinegar syrup to a small bowl to cool completely.
With a spoon, lightly toss the berries and brown sugar in a large bowl. Let stand until the sugar dissolves and the berries exude some juice, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour the vinegar syrup over the berries, add the finely chopped fresh mint (optional), and ground pepper to taste, and toss to combine.
Divide the strawberries among individual bowls or goblets and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped nuts or ground peppercorns and serve with vanilla ice cream, mascarpone cream, or whipped cream.
Makes 6 servings.
Date: November 7, 2002