Right now the market is flooded with inexpensive strawberries, but that doesn’t mean they’re at the peak of their season. They may be plump, juicy, and bright red, but the flavor just isn’t quite there. Though I knew better, when I saw huge, two-pound containers of berries going for six dollars a pop, I gave in and brought some home with me.
Predictably, they were just OK; better than their cottony winter counterparts, but not very appealing on their own. So, I did what I typically do with so-so fruit: I cooked the berries down until concentrated, tender, and sweet. (A drizzle of honey and a pinch of salt helped things along, as they tend to do.)
Paired with my latest breakfast love — a crisp and rubbly quinoa-based granola of sorts — these jammy berries make for an excellent yogurt topper. The crispy quinoa comes from a killer book, Megan Gordon’s Whole Grain Mornings, which I’d highly recommend to anyone who prefers to start with muesli, porridge, and other fiber-rich carby breakfasts. In Gordon’s recipe, uncooked quinoa, sesame seeds, and sliced almonds are bound together with a bit of maple syrup and oil before being roasted until crisp and deep golden brown. When handled this way, quinoa acts like the seed that it is, and tastes like a milder sesame seed: ever-so-slightly bitter and nutty.
Folks that are fond of halvah, and other sesame-based sweets will be especially keen on this granola stand-in. With big, crisp, slightly-sweet clusters, it’s very snackable on its own (I had trouble stopping myself from gobbling it all up off the pan as it cooled) but really comes into its own when paired with something cool and creamy, like Greek yogurt, and the aforementioned roast berries.
- For the strawberries:
- 16 ounces strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered, depending on size
- 1 tablespoon runny honey
- A pinch of kosher salt
- For the crunchy quinoa:
- 1 cup (6 1/2 ounces) uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) raw sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) raw sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as rice bran or sunflower
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the yogurt bowl:
- Greek yogurt
- Roasted strawberries
- Crunchy quinoa
- Runny honey, for drizzling
- Roast the strawberries: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment.
- In a medium mixing bowl, gently toss together the strawberries, honey, and salt.
- Spread out on the prepped sheet pan in one layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the berries are deep-dark red, tender, and the juices have begun to thicken.
- Make the crispy quinoa: Add the quinoa to a fine mesh strainer, rinse thoroughly and turn out onto a clean dish towel to dry.
- Once the quinoa is dry, add to a medium mixing bowl along with the almonds, sesame seeds, maple syrup, oil, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Spread out in one even layer on a quarter-sheet pan. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until deeply-golden and crisp. (Stir after 15 minutes, and every 5 minutes after, so as to ensure even browning, and also to keep an eye on things, as it will go from not-quite-toasted to burnt rapidly.)
- For large clusters, cool completely on the pan before stirring. For a more pebbly texture, stir immediately after removing from the oven. Either way, some of the quinoa may stick to the pan; a flat-sided wooden spatula makes easy work of scraping it up.
- Make a yogurt bowl: Spread some Greek yogurt in a bowl, top with roasted strawberries, crispy quinoa, and drizzle with honey.