Lund's, one of our local grocery chains, was giving away free strawberries this week with a $25 purchase. I thought about just freezing them for smoothies but decided such a bounty in the middle of winter really deserved something a little more special. I'd made something like this years ago, I think from a Bon Appétit recipe but couldn't find it on their site. So after lots of Google time this was the final result.
1 1/4 c good red wine (I used a Cotes du Rhone because that is what I enjoy drinking but a Cab, Zin, Pinot all would work)
6 T sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half
1 1/2 t cornstarch
Fresh ground pepper
1 T unsalted butter
4 c fresh strawberries, halved or quartered according to size (this is a good use for some of those not perfect strawberries that might have a few soft spots)
Vanilla ice cream
In a small sauce pan bring 1 c wine, sugar & vanilla bean to a boil. Mix the remaining 1/4 c of wine with the cornstarch. Whisk this mixture into the saucepan & return to a boil. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean from sauce. (This part can be made earlier in the day & leaving only the strawberries to sauté before serving.)
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the strawberries & sauté until warm through & slightly softened, about a minute. Add the sauce & a grind or two of pepper to taste (I use a blend of black & white pepper which is milder than straight black). Bring just to a boil. Serve over ice cream.
When I've made this in the past for a party I served it in martini glasses for a nice presentation but it tastes just as amazing in a bowl.
Inspired by the recipe from Terra Restaurant in Napa Valley. I prefer more vanilla & pepper flavor than they use.