Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.Henry David Thoreau
Strawberries. Crimson and scarlet fruits sprinkled with petite cream-colored seeds beckon me from the clear container in my refrigerator. I’m saving them for later today, for some summer strawberry recipes I want to make and share. “Eat us!” they practically squeal. No, I will not eat these strawberries. I will not eat these strawberries. I will not eat the…s….e….
Slowly, my resolve dissolves.
I crack open the little box and pull out a single red berry. I place it in my mouth and chew, the sweetness enveloping my tongue. Grabbing another, and then another, okay just one more, I consume them without abandon. Drats! Now, I will have to go back to the store to get more.
In most areas, strawberries are available year round. It is at the height of the summer season when strawberries are at their best ripe-for-picking, ripe for freshness, and ripe for summer recipes. Choose medium sized berries that are firm, plump, and deep red.
Did you know this about strawberries?
- The average strawberry has 200 seeds on its surface.
- According to the USDA, 94% of American households consume strawberries.
- Americans eat approximately 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries per year, and another 1.8 pounds of frozen strawberries per year.
- Strawberries are packed with vitamins, fiber and particularly high levels of antioxidants, and are a good source of manganese and potassium.
- One serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
- Health benefits of these red gems include: heart health, as well as improvement of HDL (good cholesterol), blood pressure and blood platelet function.
Strawberries are absolutely delicious on their own, or with a little sugar or cream. They are super-versatile in all types of cooking from infused waters to breakfast to appetizers to cocktails to salads to main courses and desserts. Below are some of my favorite healthy (for the most part) summer strawberry recipes to add some sweetness to your meals and your days!
BREAKFAST STRAWBERRY OATS
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Folks: Give this one a try! It’s a terrific meal replacement full of antioxidants, slow release carbs and packed with protein!
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/2 medium avocado
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
5 ounces fresh strawberries
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1-1/2 tablespoons cold butter, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an oven tray with parchment paper. Combined almonds and oats in a medium bowl; rub in butter. Spread mixture onto tray; bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool.
- Make Shortcake Crumble
- Reserve 1 tablespoon of coconut milk. Blend remaining coconut milk with frozen strawberries, avocado, oats, vanilla, cinnamon and honey, in a high-powered blender until smooth.
- Pour into serving bowls, Top with strawberry crumble, fresh strawberries. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk just before serving.
Yield: 1 9″x 5″ loaf
Cooking Time: 1 hour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1-1/2 tablespoons (divided)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
2 cups diced fresh strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease 9″x5″ loaf pan with butter.
- In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Whisk 2 cups all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt until evenly combined.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Mix the egg and sugar and until well combined. Whisk the oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract and lemon zest until evenly mixed.
- Gradually, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking as you pour just until there are no lumps as best you can. Try not to overmix.
- Reserve about 3 tablespoons of strawberries for later and set aside. Toss remaining diced strawberries with 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Gently fold in the floured strawberries into the batter.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan. Top with the reserved 3 tablespoons of diced strawberries, gently pushing them down into the batter but letting them still be visible. (This will make the bread more beautiful.)
- Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, and until golden brown. At 40 minutes into baking, cover with foil to prevent it from browning too much.
- Let cool slightly and slice. The strawberries inside will look a bit pale, which is normal.
STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC BRUSCHETTA
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
1 baguette, cut into 1 inch slices
1/4 cup, plus 2 teaspoons EVOO, divided
2 cups ricotta
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups strawberries, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
Balsamic glaze, for serving
(NOTE: Trader Joe’s has a terrific balsamic glaze to make things easier for preparation.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place baguette slices on a medium sheet tray and drizzle or brush with olive oil. Baked until bread is toasted, approximately 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, salt, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of oil. Spread each toast generously with ricotta mixture and top with strawberries.
- Garnish with basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
This is one of my favorite summer salads from Food & Wine. You can easily make this into a main course salad with some grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.
BABY LETTUCES WITH STRAWBERRIES, FETA & ALMONDS
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup EVOO
Freshly ground pepper
12 cups packed assorted lettuces
1 quart strawberries, hulled, halved
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1 cup smoked almonds, chopped
- In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, honey, shallot and vinegar. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Put the lettuces in a large bowl. Add the strawberries, feta and almonds. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss well and serve.
STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
Yield: 4 cups
Cooking Time: 30 minutes + freezer time
4 cups finely chopped strawberries
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons vodka
- Place the strawberries and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, give the pot and stir and reduce the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Pour about half the strawberries into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add the pureed and chopped strawberries into a bowl together and place them in your fridge to cool.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.
- Heat the whole milk and coconut oil in a small pot over medium-high heat until steam rises from the pot. Add the vanilla and pinch of sea salt. Whisk some of the hot milk into the egg yolks to temper them, then add the egg yolks to the pot of hot milk. Place the pot over medium heat and, whisking constantly but slowly, bring the milk almost to a boil. You want the custard to thicken to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon.
- Pour the custard into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Make sure to use the sieve to filter out any of the little bits of cooked egg. Add the whipping cream, strawberries and vodka to the bowl and whisk together well. Place the bowl in your refrigerator to let it cool completely, at least four hours.
- Once the strawberry ice cream custard is completely cold, process it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the strawberry ice cream to a freezer proof container and cover the top with parchment paper directly on the ice cream. Freeze until firm.