Friday, July 1, 2011

GF Strawberry Crisp

I've always been fascinated by spices.  They can take normal food into a whole different realm of existence, and since so many spice variations differ by geographic region, I've long loved learning about spices and seasonings that are indigenous to different countries and cultures.

So, when I spent a year living in the Middle East, my spice addiction grew even stronger.  In the shuk -- the giant open-air market in Jerusalem featuring dirt-cheap produce and every spice imaginable -- spice vendors would pile paprika into huge cones to draw business into their shops.

"Come in," beckon the paprika cones.
"Come in, and be prepared to buy enough spices for a small army..."

I, for one, couldn't get enough of the spice shops.   I bought all manner of traditional spices to bring back to the U.S. -- cardamom, saffron, za'atar, the list goes on -- and soaked it all up as much as possible.

Since returning to the U.S. almost five years ago (ack!), my love of spices has remained intact and is going strong.  You can imagine my elation, then, when a surprise package arrived in the mail -- and when I opened it, it was a wedding sampler package of different spices from a vendor in Chicago.  I was giddy.  I clapped my hands and did a happy dance.  I'm not kidding.

Replete with cinnamon sticks and bay leaves!  Happy day!
I decided to bust these puppies out immediately.  I was particularly intrigued by the vanilla sugar, which smells divine.  So, I decided to incorporate it into a recipe for GF strawberry crisp.

Why strawberry crisp, you ask?  Well, in addition to my spice addiction, I also have a bit of a strawberry problem.  Namely, I get overzealous.  I crave fresh strawberries throughout the winter -- but, since they're on the Environmental Working Group's list of fruits and veggies that should be bought organic, they remain entirely too expensive for most of the year.  Except for the summer, when they're cheap.  Which is when I tend to get waaaaaay too excited, buy my weight in strawberries, and then find myself feeling horrified when I can't eat them all before they go bad.  

Because organic strawberries deserve far better than that hideous fate, I decided to make strawberry crisp.  The crisp is inspired by Martha Rose Schulman's GF Quinoa-oat Crumble (as published in the New York Times) -- I amended it to include brown sugar and the vanilla sugar, replaced the nutmeg with a bit of cardamom, and omitted the salt.  I also replaced the butter with Earth Balance, and the quinoa flour with quinoa flakes, which are readily available in most health food stores.  As cooked below, this crumble is both GF and vegan, and it redeemed my tendency to be overzealous with the strawberries.

Strawberry Crisp with Quinoa-Oat Crumble
Inspired by Martha Rose Schulman's Quinoa Oat Crumble

1 1/4 Cups GF Rolled Oats (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 C Quinoa Flakes
1/3 C Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Cardamom
6 Tablespoons Earth Balance
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Sugar, OR 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

 Place all the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined and crumbly. 

Spread over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or aluminum foil, if you're me and you realize that you haven't purchased parchment paper in a really long time) in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, stir, and bake another 5-10 minutes or until evenly browned.  Remove from heat.

Line a baking dish with 2 - 4 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered. Sprinkle the crumble on top, drizzle with extra vanilla extract, and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes.

Plate 'er up and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds awesome! I'm so making this for my mom when I go back home. (She's the GF one in my life).