Nothing tastes like spring as much as strawberries do. This fruit, practically the first of the harvest season spanning May to November, carries the light but definitive taste of cool and sunny, sweet and citrusy in one happy little red package.
It has more uses than just a fruit snack, too, and comes stuffed with fiber and berry goodness nutrition.
Make a fuss over the strawberry this spring and wrap a party of taste around it to celebrate any occasion, or none at all. The strawberry is good at both.
Here are three easy recipes fit for dinner to dessert and drinks. Invite your friends. The season will be over too soon.
The salad makes the meal impressive; adapted from MyRecipes.com
6 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked soft white wheat berries
12 (4-ounce) center-cut pork or lamb chops
2 Tbls fresh thyme leaves, divided
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 Tbls olive oil
11/2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped shallots
1/2 tsp. honey
5 oz box baby spinach or kale, OR 1 8 oz bunch stemmed and thinly sliced spinach or kale
1 C sliced strawberries
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
Add wheat berries to the 6 cups of water and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 22 minutes or until slightly chewy. Drain, then rinse with cold water. Drain again.
Meanwhile, coat a large frying or grilling pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chops with 1 tablespoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 6 chops to pan; cook or grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan. Let stand 5 minutes and cover to keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 6 chops. When all meat is done, sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon thyme over the chops.
Combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with the oil, vinegar, shallots, and honey in a large bowl. Whisk together. Add wheat berries and spinach or kale to the oil-vinegar mixture; toss to coat. Top salad with strawberries and cheese. Place in salad bowl or on plate with meat. Serves 6 (serving size: about 1 cup salad and 2 chops)
Note: You can substitute most any meat (or fish) for the chops. Try chicken or turkey breasts (1/2 breast or less would substitute for two chops), thickly-sliced ham or even thick hamburger patties. Adjust cooking time for your choice of meat.
Light and delightful
11/2 lbs of fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
8 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
11/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin (about half a small envelope)
2 C. heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
Clean and hull the strawberries. Starting with about half of the strawberries (3/4 pound), quarter them and purée them in either a blender or food processor. Then press the purée mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. You should end up with 1 cup of purée.
Stir in 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice and set aside. With the remaining 3/4 pound or so of berries, slice as many as will fill 2 cups; set aside. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler, or a stainless-steel bowl set over simmering water Stir until smooth, set aside.
Put 1/4 cup of cool water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the water and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the cream and the 2 Tbsp of powdered sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin has dissolved.
Pour into the bowl of melted chocolate, and stir until smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the strawberry purée. Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup of purée.
Using an electric mixer, whip the remaining 1 3/4 cup of cream. Beat on medium high speed until medium peaks form. Whisk one third of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture. Then, using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Stir the remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice into the reserved sliced berries. Gently fold the sliced berries into the mousse. Spoon mousse into serving cups and refrigerate for at least another hour, preferably several hours, or overnight, covered with plastic wrap. You can garnish with whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, chopped nuts, mint leaf or nothing at all. Makes 6 to 8 desserts.
Use the ripest, juiciest strawberries for this cocktail.
1 6-oz. container fresh strawberries plus 8-10 extra strawberries for garnish
1/2 C sugar
2 C gin
1 C fresh lime juice (Fresh is best but bottled will do in a pinch)
8 sprigs sweet basil OR 8 basil leaves
Purée strawberries and sugar in the blender. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher; there will be about 3/4 cup. Discard the seeds in the sieve.
Stir gin and lime juice into a pitcher. Divide the drink among ice-filled glasses about 3/4 to the rim. Top with club soda. Garnish each cocktail with a strawberry, a basil sprig or leaf, or both. Makes 8 cocktails.
Tip: For a non-alcoholic drink, take out the gin and use lemonade or apple juice instead.
Note: This refreshing cocktail will carry you through the summer because any ripe, juicy, fresh berry, such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, will make a delicious drink. Adjust sugar as needed and try the fizz with fresh, seeded, sweet cherries.
By Jean Redstone