I moved to Florida more than 20 years ago and set about getting used to the humidity and life on the East Coast. It was no small feat. My first winter in the Sunshine State, I discovered something that made me feel at home. Strawberries. Luscious red strawberries that I could purchase by the flat in Plant City, not too far from my St. Petersburg home. There was a lot of jam made that year.
Strawberries are in season in the winter in Florida, which was different from my home state of California. I was happy to gobble the berries and use them in all sorts of dishes. They were every bit as wonderful as what I remembered from my youth.
Strawberries are a tasty and nutritious addition to salads, smoothies, sauces and always delicious sliced fresh on any kind of cereal. For a quick dessert, I soak slices in Grand Marnier and then use the melange to top pound cake. (Sometimes I use orange juice and orange zest.) Whipped cream? Yes, please.
It wasn’t until years later, when I became a food writer that I started to roast strawberries with honey and balsamic vinegar. The heat concentrates and deepens the sweetness, and the balsamic vinegar adds a complementary tang. After the mixture cools, I use it as part of the filling for grilled Brie sandwiches on sourdough. Ribbons of spinach add more flavor and freshness. You could use basil, too. Roasted Balsamic Strawberries and Brie Grilled Sandwiches are good enough to offer company. This is one special sandwich.
- 2 pints Florida strawberries hulled and halved
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 8 thick-cut slices sourdough bread
- Butter for bread room temperature
- 16 ounces brie cheese cut in slices
- ½ cup spinach sliced in thin ribbons
To roast the strawberries, preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, gently mix trimmed strawberries with honey, balsamic vinegar and salt. Spread mixture in single layer on baking pan with a lip. Roast for 30 minutes, or until strawberries have softened. Set aside to cool. (You will likely have more than you need for four sandwiches. Store in a tightly covered container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)
To make the sandwiches, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Butter the bread on one side; the side that will be on the outside and on the grill. On unbuttered side of bread, layer 3 to 4 slices of brie. Top with 2 tablespoons of roasted strawberries and spread evenly. Scatter with a tablespoon of spinach ribbons. Top with the other slice of buttered bread. Grill in skillet for about 3 minutes on each side, or until cheese melts and bread is browned.
I am learning more about how to use strawberries in nutritious dishes and the ways they are grown this weekend at the live Sunday Supper event with the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. A group of Sunday Supper tastemakers are visiting family farms in the Plant City area (just east of Tampa). I am hoping to nosh a few berries straight from the plants. (Look for a photo on Instagram.)
Besides visiting the strawberry fields (forever!), we are staying at the boutique Epicurean Hotel in Tampa. The Epicurean has a “cooking theater,” where we are participating in cooking classes and seminars. I am excited to share what I am learning with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and in upcoming posts on the Sunday Supper site. (Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag on social media.) We are experiencing several restaurants including Ava, Cask Social Kitchen, Elevage and Edge Rooftop Bar at the Epicurean and the Harry Waugh Dessert Room at the Legendary Bern’s Steak House, which has one of the largest restaurant wine cellars in the country.
One of the coolest features of the entire weekend will be our #SundaySupper Live! Twitter party at 7 p.m. ET tonight. My Sunday Supper compatriots and I will all be in the same room tweeting and sharing our new-found strawberry knowledge. Please join us for #SundaySupper Live! It’s going to be sweet! You’ll know it when you see this week’s recipes.
- Strawberry Bee’s Knees by Go Epicurista
- Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze by Life Tastes Good
- Strawberry Hotteok (Fried Stuffed Pancake) by kimchi MOM
- Strawberry Salsa 2-Ways by Midlife Road Trip
- Strawberry and Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries with a Strawberry Dipping Sauce by The Healthy Fit Foodie
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing by Momma’s Meals
- Sparkling Strawberry Salad by Magnolia Days
- Strawberry Steak Salad by Family Foodie
Strawberry Main Dishes
- Chicken Fajitas with Strawberry-Jalapeno Salsa by Casa de Crews
- Roasted Balsamic Strawberries and Brie Grilled Sandwich by Sunday Supper Movement
- Savory Balsamic Roasted Strawberry and Basil Grilled Cheese by Pass The Sushi
- Strawberry Bruschetta Chicken by The Dinner-Mom
- Chocolate Strawberry Tart by Desserts Required
- Strawberry Cream Pie by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Strawberry Fraisier by Love and Confections
- Strawberry Upside-Down Cheesecake by The Crumby Cupcake
- Florida Winter Strawberry Recipes by Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
Also, you still have chance to win a gift card if you post a strawberry photo on Instagram and tag it #FLStrawberry BY 12:01 P.M. TODAY (Jan. 17, 2016)! Winners will be chosen TONIGHT at random during our #SundaySupper Live! 7 p.m. ET Twitter party from Tampa. Get contest details.
Need more Florida winter strawberry inspiration? Check out the website of Strawberry Sue, also known as Florida Strawberry spokeswoman Sue Harrell, for tips and recipes.
This post is sponsored by Florida Strawberry Growers Association in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.