Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp paring knife and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife; save the empty pod for a garnish, if you like. Put the seeds in a small saucepan, along with the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 7 minutes to let the vanilla infuse. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any fibrous pieces of vanilla pod or clumps of seeds. Let cool and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Rinse the raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries and spread them in a single layer on a towel to dry. Hull the strawberries and cut them into quarters.
Just before serving, combine all the berries in a large serving bowl and pour on just enough of the vanilla syrup to lightly coat them, about 3 Tbs. Toss gently.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on six servings;
Photo: Scott Phillips