Strawberry fields are not forever
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 email@example.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
1 10.5-ounce goat cheese log, softened
HEAT oven to 375 degrees. Stir together strawberries, nectarine, grape tomatoes, basil, minced shallot, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt.
SPLIT baguette in half; cut each half crosswise into four equal pieces. Spread cut sides of bread with goat cheese. Place bread pieces on a baking sheet, and bake 13 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and top with strawberry mixture. Cut into 2-inch slices.
Cheese-Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Sauce
12 diagonally cut slices French bread
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 8-ounce tub reduced-fat cream cheese
2 1/2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
2 large eggs
CUT a horizontal slit through bottom crust of each slice of bread to form a pocket. Combine powdered sugar and cream cheese; stir well. Spread mixture evenly into pockets of bread. Place 6 bread slices in each of two large, shallow baking dishes. Set aside.
COMBINE milk, sugar, vanilla extract, egg whites and eggs in a bowl. Beat well with a wire whisk. Pour milk mixture evenly over bread slices. Cover and chill 1 hour or until liquid is absorbed.
COAT a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium heat until hot. Arrange half of bread slices in skillet, and cook 3 minutes. Turn bread over, and cook 3 minutes or until browned; remove from skillet. Repeat procedure with the remaining bread slices.
Serve with Strawberry Sauce.
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Cover and let stand 1 hour.
Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Muffins
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups diced fresh strawberries
HEAT oven to 400 degrees. Place 16 muffin liners in a muffin pans and lightly spray with cooking spray.
COMBINE flour and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl and make a well in center.
COMBINE sour cream, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add to flour mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
GENTLY fold strawberries into batter and spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.
SPRINKLE remaining 1/4 cup sugar on top of batter and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until tops of muffins are set.
PLACE on wire rack and cool in pans for 1 minute. Remove from pans and let muffins cool 10 minutes.