It’s hard not to love strawberries. They are summer’s first fruit in most parts of the country. Sweet, red, juicy — they can be eaten straight off the vine (one of the great treats of the season) or made into smoothies, ice cream, cake, pie, sauces, jam and jellies as well as savory dishes.
Here are three favorite new recipes: a savory salad that uses roasted strawberries, a quick jam, and a gorgeous, simple summer pie.
A Few Facts:
- Strawberries originated in Europe in the 18th century.
- To hull (or core) a strawberry, simply remove the green stem end by inserting a small sharp knife into the berry next to the stem cap. Don’t hull your strawberries until ready to eat or cook.
- Taste is the best indicator when buying strawberries. But when you can’t taste, use your nose to smell the berry: It should smell sweet and berry-like. A deep red color isn’t always the best sign of taste.
- Don’t wash fresh berries until you are ready to use them. Rinse under gentle cold running water and pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel.
- Ideally, you will be eating or cooking with the berries within 24 hours. If so, you don’t want to refrigerate them. However if keeping berries longer than 24 hours you should refrigerate, even though refrigeration will slightly diminish the flavor and texture.
- If you find a berry developing mold, simply remove it from the others and gently rinse off all remaining berries before using.
- Strawberries can be frozen. If you’ve visited a farmer’s market or pick-your-own strawberry field and have an excess of berries, hull the berries and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about an hour. Once they are frozen enough to hold their shape, you can transfer the berries to a tightly sealed plastic container or bag, making sure to remove all the air from the bag. Strawberries will keep in the freezer for several months.
- Strawberries are 91% water and contain almost no fat.
- They contain 32 calories and 4.9 grams of sugar and have less than 8 grams of carbs per 3.5 ounces.
- Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and are rich in folate, fiber and potassium.
Roasted Strawberry Red Summer Salad
I’ve never been a huge fan of strawberries in savory dishes. I know many cooks love to experiment with strawberries in salad dressings and meat and fish dishes, but there’s something about the sweetness that just doesn’t work for me. Several years ago I decided to try roasting strawberries to see if a hot oven might bring out a more savory quality to the fruit. It turned out that roasting releases a savory sweetness that is really appealing.
Here the berries are tossed in a touch of sugar, olive oil and salt and roasted until soft. The roasted berries are ideal for a summer salad: The fruit is placed on top of thin slices of slightly bitter radicchio, salty feta cheese, and crunchy, peppery radishes. It’s a sophisticated-looking salad that uses only a few ingredients and can be put together in about 20 minutes.
Serves 2 to 4.
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups very thinly sliced radicchio or red cabbage
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the strawberries, tip side up, in a small roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Drizzle with the sugar, oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and toss very gently. Place on the middle shelf and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
- Place the radicchio or cabbage on a serving plate. Place the roasted strawberries on top and sprinkle with the radishes and feta cheese. Spoon the juices from the pan or skillet on top.
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have time to make homemade jam! But actually, you do. Here’s how straightforward and fast it can be.
Mix fresh berries with sugar, ginger and lemon juice, boil over high heat, mash with a potato masher, and cook until the berries thicken and become jam-like. That’s it. No pectin added. No fancy tricks. You’ll be rewarded with the freshest, sweetest, fruity jam and, if you use local berries, the flavor will be even sweeter.
Spread the jam on toast and bread, but also spoon the jam on yogurt, ice cream, and buttery cakes. Try lightly toasted bread with fresh ricotta cheese and a dollop of this strawberry jam.
Makes about 1 3/4 to 2 cups.
- 2 quarts (4 pints, or about 3 pounds, depending on the size) ripe strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ to 1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons crystallized or candied ginger, cut into thin slices (optional)
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and dry ginger. Mix and place over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Using a potato masher, mash the berries and simmer until it thickens and becomes jam-like and bubbles cover the surface of the jam, about 10 minutes.
- One of the many tests to see if the jam is ready is to place a small plate in the freezer for 20 minutes. Place a spoonful of jam on the frozen plate and place back into the freezer for a minute or so. Tilt the plate: if the jam is ready it will appear thick and not drip off the plate. Keep in mind that the jam will thicken and set further as it chills. Remove from the heat and stir in the crystallized ginger slices, if using.
- Place the jam in a sealed jar and refrigerate for about 10 days to 2 weeks.
Strawberry Glazed Pie
This pie is a great way to showcase the season’s ripe berries. A pie crust is prebaked (make your own or buy a 9-inch one) and you’ll need two quarts of ripe strawberries: the most beautiful ones are used to fill the golden-brown shell. The remaining strawberries — this is the perfect use for any bruised or misshapen berries — are cooked down into a simple glaze which is drizzled on top of the berries.
The pie needs to refrigerate for about an hour or up to six hours before serving. Serve with vanilla-scented whipped cream.
Serves 4 to 6.
For the crust (or substitute a 9-inch store-bought crust):
- 2 cups flour (240 grams)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- About 1/3 cup very cold water
- Pinch salt
For the pie and glaze:
- 2 quarts ripe strawberries, (4 pints or about 3 pounds depending on the size) ripe strawberries, hulled
- About 1 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Make the crust: Blend the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times, until it resembles small peas. With the motor running add only enough water so that the dough begins to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Alternately, mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or two flat kitchen knives, work the butter into the flour until it resembles small peas. Place the dough on a sheet of wax or parchment paper, wrap into a disc shape, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. Remove dough about 20 minutes before rolling it out.
- When ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a circle about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch pie plate and trim and crimp the edges. Using a fork prick the crust (homemade or store bought) all over the bottom and up the sides. This will help prevent the dough from puffing up and allows air to circulate underneath. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and feels firm to the touch.
- When the crust is cool, fill the pie: Choose the best-looking half of the strawberries. Fit these berries into the crust like puzzle pieces with the stem end down and the pointy side up. You may need to cut a few berries in half to fit them into the crust, forming an almost solid berry layer. Set aside.
- To make the glaze: Place the remaining berries in a large skillet over low heat. Add ½ cup of water and, using a potato masher, coarsely mash the berries. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar (if your berries are exceptionally sweet you won’t need more), raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl and mix in some of the strawberry “mash,” stirring to create a smooth paste. Return the mash to the skillet and simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Taste for sweetness; add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar if needed. Strain the strawberry glaze through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Pour the glaze over the berries into the crust, making sure not to overfill it and ooze out of the crust. (Any extra glaze is delicious on ice cream, toast, etc.) Refrigerate for several hours.
- Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Click here for more of chef Kathy Gunst's recipes using strawberries.