Strawberries are like potato chips … it’s hard to eat just one. And since we are in the midst of Central Florida’s strawberry harvest, it’s time to try some news ways to enjoy them.
The old saying about something being “soup to nuts” was courses of a formal meal that started with soup and ended with the men drinking port and nibbling nuts. That doesn’t seem fair to the women, though. If that happened these days, the women could retire to another room and enjoy a glass of sweet, bubbly moscato wine and chocolate-dipped strawberries. That sounds better than nuts to me.
For something different though, start a strawberry meal with soup. A strawberry soup is as simple as whirring a few things in a blender. Begin with a pound of clean, sliced berries and add 2 cups of plain yogurt. Whir that until it’s smooth. Cover the blender and put it in the fridge until just before dinner. Stir in a quart of ginger ale and pour into 6 soup plates or bowls. Garnish with berry fans. You can use Greek yogurt if you want more bite and body or thin it with more soda.
Salad is a simple way to get berries into a meal. Put some on top of lettuce. (NOT!) A little imagination in a salad makes mundane into magnificent and you can show off what’s in your cupboard and a few extras. Medjool dates (in a supermarket) are kind of pricey, but they are super sweet and stay good a long time. Sliver one per person. Section a couple of oranges or red grapefruit, depending on your taste and what your neighbor on the farm has available. Most pine nuts we buy come from China. Look on the package. If you can’t get some from Italy or America, you can substitute with sunflower seeds. And look on packages of garlic before you buy it. Much of that comes from China. Toss pecans or walnuts with cinnamon sugar in a small, non-stick frying pan until they are glazed. Six per person will do. The hard part comes next … taking the stems off baby spinach.
Design your salad with spinach on the bottom and add whatever you like, however you like, as long as you include plenty of fresh strawberries and one smack in the middle of each plate for eye appeal. A drizzle of Balsamic vinegar (as good as you can afford) is all the dressing you need.
Main courses might seem like an odd place for strawberries, but when you put them in a sweet-and-sour sauce, they’re wonderful. You can pour the sauce over sautéed chicken breasts, pork cutlets or fish to really liven up a meal.
Strawberry Sweet and Sour Sauce
4 Strawberries, crushed
4 strawberries, sliced
¼ cup sugar
¼ rice (or cider) vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
In a pot, mix sugar with rice (or cider) vinegar and water. Add brandy (optional), and stir in cornstarch. Add crushed berries and heat until bubbly, smooth and thickened. Add sliced berries and heat.
How about a strawberry treat with all the appeal of chocolate dipped berries but none of the finicky work? You need berries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, shaved dark chocolate, and freshly grated or ground cinnamon. Cubes of angel food cake are a nice addition. Make single servings or a big bowl and enjoy Florida strawberries.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the food editor for Central Florida Ag News.