CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Fourth of July holiday prompts a burst of patriotism and a resulting search for red, white and blue foods. Blue unquestionably poses the biggest challenge in a patriotic food color scheme. There aren't many naturally occurring blue foods, beyond blueberries. Blue corn chips and blue potatoes also come to mind.
White berry sangria, red salsa and blue and white corn chips make a festive combination as do potato salads made with red, white and blue potatoes.
Blue flowers might not be considered a food source, but some are edible and provide the elusive blue element. The herb borage produces edible blue flowers, as do some violets. But violets aren't in season and most gardeners don't grow borage.
But what's that burst of blue along dry, sun-baked roadsides? It's chicory, and the flowers happen to be edible. In the garden, cornflowers, or bachelor buttons, are a good, edible blue flower bet. They're fairly common and in bloom now. Don't be tempted to throw blue hydrangea flowers into a dish. They're slightly toxic.
Use the edible flowers to add blue to Red White and Blue Salad, a simple summer dish of tomato slices topped with a creamy white cucumber salad.
Any combination of red strawberries or raspberries, bananas or apples and blueberries works. Beyond the familiar white flag cake topped with stripes of red berries and a square of blueberry stars" in the upper left corner, find a few more creative berry-based suggestions below.
* Top waffles or pancakes with a row of strawberry slices, whipped cream and blueberries.
* Top mini cheesecakes with a strawberry slice and a few blueberries.
* Skewer strawberries, mini marshmallows and blueberries.
* Assemble layers of blueberry, strawberry and vanilla pudding or tapioca in clear glasses for parfaits
* Dip whole strawberries, leaves and stems removed, in white chocolate halfway up, then either dip the tip in blue-colored sugar or drizzle with blue icing.
* Make a blueberry, banana and star-shaped watermelon salad. To make the stars, slice watermelon in slices slightly thicker than the depth of a star-shaped cookie cutter. Push the star cookie cutter into the watermelon slices, using the handle of a blunt utensil to push the cutter and resulting star shaped watermelon piece all the way through.
Unusual blue and red potatoes combined with run-of-the-mill whites make a patriotic potato salad. Use a vinegar-based dressing rather than a creamy one so the potatoes' colors shine through.
If you enlarge your parameters to include foods with colors in the name, but not necessarily visually blue, you open the door for recipes with blue cheese. We grilled individual pizzas topped with slices of red nectarines and white peaches, blue cheese, pecans and a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar and honey for a great sweet and tangy combination of flavors. Burgers topped with blue cheese, red tomato slices and white onions would also deliciously qualify in this category.
As a last resort for a patriotic food look, stick a miniature flag on whatever dish you serve and call it "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.
Red, White & Blue Pizza
1 pound pizza or frozen bread dough, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white nectarine, pitted
1 red plum, pitted
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Snipped fresh chives
Oil, to brush on grill grates
HEAT outdoor grill to medium heat.
DIVIDE pizza dough into 4 equal balls and roll each out on lightly floured surface to make 6-inch circles.
PLACE dough circles on a baking sheet and brush both sides with oil.
REMOVE dough from baking sheet and grill them a few minutes on each side until dough is cooked through with light grill marks. Timing depends on the grill's temperature.
REMOVE crusts from grill and cool.
SLICE each fruit into 8 slices.
OIL the grates of the grill with a barbecue brush and cook fruit a few minutes on each side to lightly brown. Remove fruit from grill and arrange fruit on the pizza crusts.
STIR together vinegar and honey and drizzle on the fruit.
SPRINKLE the pizzas with blue cheese and pecans.
PLACE pizzas back on grill and close lid to melt cheese.
Summer Triple Berry White Sangria
1 cup strawberries hulled
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups berry flavored vodka*
1 1/2 cups clear berry flavored juice
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 750 ml bottle of white wine
1 to 2 cups ginger ale or lemon lime soda
Mint sprigs for garnish
PLACE the strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, vodka, fruit juice and sugar in a large pitcher. Mix well. Cover the pitcher and let the berries macerate in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the wine, soda and ice cubes.
Decrease amount of vodka, if desired.
Red, White & Blue Potato Salad