Strawberry Mania

Summer's strawberry bounty

Summer’s strawberry bounty in its many forms.

Strawberry season is getting off to a slow start in our corner of the world, but now the big grocery stores are full of them and with a little sunshine the farmers markets will soon be exploding with the good stuff. Of course, you’re not going to go wrong by simply washing them and letting everyone inhale them by the pint, but let’s go over just a few easy, yummy ways to use them.

Ready? Here we go…

First, a word on hulling strawberries. The frugal among us get torqued at wasting half a strawberry because SOME PEOPLE grab the stem, take one big bite and leave the rest for the compost bin. So we the frugal rush to hull all the strawberries and thereby enable maximum use of the fruit. The best way to do this of course is with a strawberry huller, and if you have one you are my culinary niche tool hero. If you don’t, here are two solutions to maximize each berry:

First, the most basic and humble vegetable peeler has a built in “potato-eye remover” at the end, which can just as well take on strawberry stems. You will quickly discover that you can’t manhandle a strawberry like a potato, but get as close as you can to the stem, plunge the tip of the peeler right in and dig out the stem. It takes about three strawberries to master this.

If that still sounds too much labor go ahead and chop off the tops, then use them to make your own shmancy strawberry water that will make you the envy of any yoga class:

Strawberry Water

After rinsing your strawberries, slice off their tops and dump them into a large jar. Fill it with water, let it sit for an hour or so and… Voila! Strawberry infused water. Drink deeply. Feel beautiful. Namaste

Worlds Easiest Strawberry Dessert

Ingredients:

  • Strawberries
  • Sour cream
  • Brown sugar

Method:

Grab a strawberry. Dip it first in sour cream, then in brown sugar. Eat. Repeat.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote:

This comes from the Bitten Word with inspiration from farmer Carrie at their CSA It is certified easy, very quick, kid pleasing, totally portable AND a great way to use up the rhubarb that might be taking over your garden. The guys at BW advise us not to get hung up on the amounts listed in this recipe. Depending on the amount of rhubarb and strawberries you have, the method is easily adapted. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, sliced into half-inch pieces
  • 1 cup strawberries, capped and halved (if using larger strawberries, you can quarter them)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Method:

Place rhubarb in a saucepan. Sprinkle with sugar. Cook over medium heat until rhubarb begins to soften and fall apart (20 minutes). In the last 5 minutes of cooking, toss in the strawberries. Add a little lemon zest at this point for extra credit.

Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve over good vanilla ice cream or yogurt, top with whipped cream or just put it on a spoon.

 Some Savory and Sweet Goodness

Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a classic Italian-inspired combination. They can be served as a dessert, like in Ina Garten’s recipe below, in a salad with goat cheese and peppery greens (pepper is key to the strawberry/balsamic alchemy) like arugula or as an appetizer like on the bruschetta further down. I’ve even seen them on a pizza with bacon, but we’re not going there today.

 Balsamic Strawberries à la Ina Garten

 As with the compote, no need to be too particular on quantities. Just aim to get the proportions close:

Ingredients:

  • 4 pints (8 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced thick
  • 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

Method:

Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature.

Place a serving of the strawberries in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream on top and dust lightly with lemon zest.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta

These are gooooood, kid approved and somewhat impressive to guests. Substitute whipped cream cheese if you’re not a goat cheese fan, but do try the goat cheese on your picky eaters. You might be surprised. This recipe makes 12 big slices which can easily be cut in half for easier eating. Remember the napkins!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 12 slices Italian bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound strawberries, washed and diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup goat cheese, room temperature
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 Method:

  1. Heat vinegar in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Simmer until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Prepare a grill for high heat. Place bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. (alternatively, assemble bread in a baking sheet, brush slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 until toasted to your liking.)
  3. Combine strawberries and thyme in a small bowl and set aside. (If your strawberries aren’t farm fresh and super sweet sprinkle them with a little sugar when nobody is looking.)
  4. Grill bread on the preheated grill until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  5. Spread goat cheese on toasted bread. Add black pepper, salt, and reduced vinegar to the strawberry mixture. Spoon over the goat cheese topped bruschetta. Garnish with additional thyme.

These are easy to bring if you pre-bake/toast the bread. Simply bring goat cheese, strawberry/balsamic mixture and bread in separate containers and assemble on site.

Now let’s hope the sun shines on those strawberry fields so the berry fest can begin!

 

 

 

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