I love strawberries but I'm a strawberry snob. It's not just that I'm addicted to the taste of fresh strawberries...I also love them because they fit so well into my diet, which requires moderate calories and low carbs. A cup of strawberry slices delivers no fat, only 53 calories and 13 grams of carb.
The snob part? I prefer local Maine strawberrries, which have far superior taste when compared to the California and Florida products. The shipped-in strawberries, like most industrial produce, has been bred for shelf life and shipability, to the expense of taste. The Maine strawberry season is extremely short, from late June until early August, but our feeling here is that it's better to enjoy the good stuff for a few weeks than to be disappointed the rest of the year.
So why am I writing about a strawberry dessert in April? Because I succumbed to low prices, just like the people who shop at WallMart and buy Kia cars instead of BMW's. Weird weather delayed the Florida strawberry crop this year so most of their product hit the market just when the California berries were arriving, with the predictable result that prices are obscenely low. At the entry to my local supermarket there was a huge display of California strawberries for $1.49 a pound, and that's the kind of thing I respond to without even thinking about it.
I usually just enjoy them sliced on my cereal in the morning, or cooked into a compote. But this crumble, which you'd think would be extremely sinful – so full of strawberry flavor and enhanced by the crunch and sweetness of the topping – is only 124 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving (and only 3 Weight Watchers Points). That's good eating and healthy eating on the same plate, which suits me just fine.
6 servings, about 1/2 cup each
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup no-calorie granulated sweetener, such as Splenda
- Scant pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small dice
- 6 tablespoons "old-fashioned" rolled oats
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds, chopped
For the filling:
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, cored and cut in half (about 14 ounces or 3 1/2 cups after prep)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Place the flour, granulated sweetener, salt and butter in a bowl. Rub the butter chunks between thumbs and forefingers until the chunks are broken down and the mixture starts to clump. Add the almonds and rolled oats and stir to mix. Keep chilled.
2. Preheat the oven to 375º.
3. Prepare a 6" x 8" x 2" rectangular (or 8" diameter round) ovenproof dish with cooking spray. Place the strawberries, vanilla extract, cognac and lemon juice in the dish and stir to combine. Taste and correct the flavoring with additional lemon juice or sweetener as required.
4. Spread the topping over the strawberries and bake in the preheated 375º oven for about 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping has begun to brown and crisp.
5. Allow to cool for ten minutes or so before serving.
Optional but recommended additions: a dollop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or whole-milk Greek yogurt.
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