CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Usher in summer with local strawberries, which are hitting the markets and ripening in "you-pick" farms now. The narrow window to enjoy fresh, locally grown strawberries will stay open only briefly, so get them while you can.
Enjoy them in these combinations, or just sliced in a bowl with a sprinkle of sugar:
Whole strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar -- a dip in the sour cream and then in brown sugar makes an instant dessert.
Cilantro and strawberries -- in a fruity salsa
Basil and mint and strawberries-- in an herbal strawberry sauce over grilled chicken, fish or pancakes (see recipe below).
Balsamic vinegar and strawberries -- a sweet and sour mix in salads or over vanilla ice cream.
Goat cheese and strawberries --- a tangy and sweet addition to salads or grilled sandwiches.
Arugula and strawberries -- a peppery, sweet salad base.
Chocolate and strawberries -- a classic combination.
The Strawberry Basil Sauce that's served over grilled chicken in the recipe below also contains fresh mint, which gives the fresh sauce another dimension of flavor.
Refreshing Strawberry Bruschetta incorporates both basil and goat cheese for a great spring starter.
The strawberry sauce for Cheese-Stuffed French Toast showcases the berries, adding only honey and lemon juice, while the slight tartness from the lemons contrasts well with fresh, sweet strawberries in Strawberry Lemonade Muffins.
However you slice them, ripe strawberries make one of summer's simplest pleasures.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.
Grilled chicken with strawberry basil sauce
Yield: 4 servings
1 1/2 pound chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
SEASON chicken with salt and pepper and grill for about 5 minutes per side until done, when juices run clear and no longer pink.
MELT coconut oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
ADD strawberries, basil, mint and orange juice and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced and thickened.
SPOON strawberry sauce over cooked chicken and garnish with additional basil and mint.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 nectarine, diced
1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce French bread baguette