Food of the Week: Strawberries

Testing strawberry recipes is no chore. As well as enjoying the finished product, you get to sneak bites of chopped strawberry as you go. In fact, that might be the best part.

As if strawberries weren’t already a fun food—chocolate-covered strawberries being one example—here’s a fun fact about them that will probably surprise you. According to WebMD, strawberries aren’t actually berries or even fruit, but the “enlarged receptacle” of a flower in the rose family.

Strawberries are a great way to get vitamin C and fiber, with one cup of raw strawberry halves providing about one and a half times the daily recommended dose of C and 3 grams of fiber. Various other compounds in strawberries have been suggested to protect against cancer, diabetes, and other diseases and age-induced processes.

Lemony Strawberry-Spinach Salad

“This tastes like an awesome salad version of strawberry lemonade” was my thought as I enjoyed this rendition of the classic salad. From the Cooking Light 15-Minute Cookbook.

10 oz. fresh spinach, torn
2 c. sliced strawberries
½ c. thinly sliced red onion (½ small)
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 T. sugar
1 T. vegetable oil
2 t. grated lemon rind
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, sugar,  and oil. Stir in lemon rind. Pour over spinach mixture and toss, then sprinkle with pepper. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Strawberries with Arugula and Goat Cheese

From Mark Bittman.

3 c. strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
1 T. balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 c. arugula leaves
4 oz. goat cheese
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Toss the strawberries with the vinegar and black pepper in a large salad bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the arugula, sprinkle with salt, and toss again. Crumble goat cheese over the salad, drizzle with olive oil, and toss gently one last time. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Strawberry Breakfast Cobbler

As Delicious Living magazine recommends, eat this with a scoop of plain yogurt for breakfast (or by itself), or cut into snack bars.

1 ½ c. rolled oats
½ c. almond meal
¾ c. sugar (such as date or natural cane)
2 T. ground flaxseed
1 c. plus 2 T. whole grain spelt flour or whole wheat flour
¼ t. salt
¼ t. baking soda
2 T. vanilla
½ c. melted coconut oil or butter
½ t. cinnamon
2 c. sliced fresh strawberries

1. Heat oven to 350° and lightly grease an 8x8-in. baking dish. In a mixing bowl, place oats, almond meal, sugar, flaxseed, 1 c. flour, salt, baking soda, and vanilla; toss to combine. Use a pastry blender or two forks to work in coconut oil or butter. Add water 1 T. at a time until the mixture resembles small peas. Remove 1 c. of oat mixture and set aside, pressing the remaining mixture into prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until nicely browned.
2. Meanwhile, place remaining 2 T. flour and cinnamon in a bowl, then stir in strawberries until well coated. Spread strawberries over hot crust. Sprinkle top evenly with reserved oat mixture and press gently. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes more or until topping is golden brown. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

Cold fruit soups are versatile meal components—this one could be part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or served as a dessert or snack.

5 c. sliced fresh strawberries (about 2 lb.)
¼ c. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 T. fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 T. honey, or to taste (opt.)
Mint sprigs for garnish (opt.)

In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries with orange juice and mint until smooth. Add honey and blend. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 1-2 hours, until cold.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Mousse

Many of us have enjoyed the strawberry-rhubarb combination in the form of muffins, crisp, and jam. I had never tried it this way until researching this column. From Fran McCullough.

4 c. diced rhubarb
Pinch salt
1 pint strawberries, in small pieces
1 scant c. sugar
1 pint heavy cream

Cook the rhubarb in the microwave until soft, then add the salt. Alternately, add the salt to the rhubarb and stew it gently, uncovered, on top of the stove. You may need to add a tiny amount of water. Add most of the sugar (saving the rest for the whipped cream) and strawberries, then put the mixture in the freezer for 20 minutes while you whip the cream. Whip the cream into stiff peaks and mix in the remaining sugar. Gently fold in the rhubarb-berry mixture, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: McCullough’s original low-carb recipe calls for 11 packets Equal instead of sugar. I found that when I used thawed frozen rhubarb, I didn’t need to cook it because it was already on the soft side. However, I will try pureeing half or all of the fruit mixture next time I make this for a smoother mousse.
Strawberry Mint Sangria

From a 2004 Cosmopolitan magazine article.

2 c. strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ c. fresh mint leaves (about 20 leaves), plus extra sprigs for garnish
1 ½ oz. brandy
1 bottle dry white wine, chilled
12 oz. club soda, chilled

In a large glass pitcher, combine the strawberries, mint, and brandy. Slowly pour in the wine, then refrigerate for two hours. When ready to serve, add the club soda and stir gently. Pour into ice-filled glasses, and garnish each glass with a mint sprig.