There is nothing like biting into a plump, juicy strawberry on a hot summer day. The wait is finally over – May is officially the start of strawberry season. Although these sweet, red-hued berries are delicious as is, let them add their disntinctive sweetness to every meal, from breakfast to dinner.
The strawberry basics
Choosing the best strawberries
Strawberries are delicate, perishable fruit that are best consumed within two to three days of purchase. If the option is available, buy each strawberry individually, instead of in a container. However, if a container is your only choice, inspect the fruit and choose a container that has unbruised, firm, mold-free, fresh looking strawberries. Opt for strawberries with the brightest red color; darker red hues can mean the fruit is old or overripe. Pale red or yellow berries are usually underripe. As for size, you may think going for the biggest strawberries is the best choice, but the medium-sized ones will typically have the most flavorful.
Store strawberries in the original container or place them on paper towels in the refrigerator. This will minimize moisture and prevent mold. Don’t wash strawberries until you are ready to eat them, as this increases the risk of mold. Most strawberries will last for two to three days properly stored.
To prepare strawberries for eating as a snack or as an ingredient in other dishes, gently rinse each berry and remove the green hulls, if necessary. At this point, you can eat them whole or cut them according to your recipe.
Serving suggestions for strawberries
Strawberries are delicious dipped in chocolate, used for strawberry shortcake, or tossed in fruit salads or other desserts. You can even lightly grill these berries for a unique summer snack. Strawberries are also lovely additions to savory dishes. Add them to spinach or green salads, use as garnishes for seafood or poultry, or puree them into a sauce and spread over fresh brie cheese. You can even toss them in a balsamic glaze and serve with grilled crusty bread and a good cheese. There are many options for using strawberries in every meal; simply get creative and come up with your recipes that work wonders for your palate.
All recipes courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission
Strawberry and Brie Bruschetta
Makes 6 servings
12 slices French bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 slices (about 12 ounces) Brie cheese
1-1/2 pounds (about 4 to 5 cups) sliced stemmed strawberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Spread 1 side of each bread slice with butter. Arrange bread, butter side up, on a large baking sheet.
3. In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle 1 teaspoon over each slice of bread. Reserve remaining sugar mixture.
4. Toast bread in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and top each with 1 slice of cheese. Bake an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.
5. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine strawberries, vanilla and remaining sugar mixture, tossing lightly.
6. To serve, spoon strawberry mixture equally over each piece of bread and sprinkle with almonds.
Salmon with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 6 servings
1 pound stemmed strawberries
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
6 (8-ounce) salmon fillets
12 strawberries, stemmed, halved
Fresh thyme sprigs as needed
1. Puree strawberries in a blender or processor. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add dried herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and pepper flakes, whisking thoroughly to combine. Whisk in vinegar. While whisking, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and balance flavors with a small amount of sugar, if needed. Cover and set aside.
3. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Grill or broil salmon until cooked through.
4. Drizzle 3 tablespoons strawberry balsamic vinaigrette over salmon and garnish with strawberry halves and thyme sprigs.
Strawberry, Shrimp, and Feta Salad
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
3/4 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp
2 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed, quartered
8 cups mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 small cucumber, sliced
1. In small bowl, make vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, vinegar, water, shallots, salt and pepper.
2. In a seperate bowl, toss onion with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette, and set aside.
3. Grill shrimp over a gas grill or in a grill pan for 5 minutes, turning once, or until pink and cooked through.
4. In another small bowl, toss strawberries with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
5. In large bowl, toss greens and onion with enough of the remaining vinaigrette to coat lightly.
6. Arrange strawberries and shrimp on top of greens and sprinkle with cheese and garnish with slices of cucumber.