Do you like cooking but hate all that actual heat and flame? Do you have a sweet tooth, but want to seem sophisticated when you pig out? Well, here’s a tip: try marinating fresh strawberries in that finest of vinegars, the darkly sweet balsamic.

If it sounds odd, just remember beauty and flavor are found in contradictions. This is an easy, no-cooking dessert that can either serve as its own dish or as an ingredient. It’s simple, quick and makes you seem way classier than you are. And remember, just like any wine, the better the vinegar, the better the dish. If it comes in a large plastic jug, you might want to pick up something stickier.

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ lemon zest

Rinse the strawberries and remove the tops; with a very sharp knife, cut each strawberry in half and slice as thinly as possible. Paper-thin is good, but do the best you can. Place berries in an airtight container (like Tupperware or a mason jar) and sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients, turning carefully to coat. Seal and store in refrigeration for at least 24 hours. Patience is a virtue.

You’ll find that the vinegar breaks down the berries slightly (and continues the longer you let it marinate), so the dish eventually becomes coulis-like. You can serve it over vanilla yogurt or ice cream, or as a topping for a light cake. Or you can just enjoy it plain and delicious and piquant.

by Nathan Kamal

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