We’re able to get strawberries year round, but winter’s mealy stand-ins are no match for the juicy, sun-fattened berries of summer.
Their intense sweetness naturally lends itself to inclusion in desserts. We stuff strawberries into pies, crisps, tarts, shortcakes, cheesecakes and parfaits. We dip them in chocolate and smother them with whipped cream.
But strawberries have a much greater range than we give them credit for. When paired with fresh summer herbs, they offer a deliciously subtle counterbalance. They handily take the bite out of basil and temper the strong flavor of cilantro. Move strawberries up on the menu with this easy salad with homemade dressing that you can use on grilled chicken or shrimp, or a twist on the tomato-heavy bruschettas of summer. But hurry to your local farmer’s market because the summer strawberry season is almost at its end.
Makes about 20 pieces
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 baguette loaf, cut in 1/2-inch slices
- Extra basil for garnish (optional)
1. In a medium bowl, mix strawberries, vinegar, oil, basil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Set aside to allow berries to release their juices and flavors to meld.
2. Meanwhile, arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and toast on both sides under broiler. Arrange toasted bread on a platter.
3. Stir strawberry mixture, then top each piece of bread with a spoonful of the berry salsa, including some liquid on each. Garnish with basil if desired. Serve immediately.
Tip: Toasted bread will keep in a gallon Ziploc bag until you’re ready to use it. Don’t assemble bruschetta until ready to eat or it will become soggy.
Editor’s Suggestion: Spread each piece of toasted bread with a little Chavrie (spreadable goat cheese) before topping with salsa. Delish!
Strawberry Kale Salad with Cilantro-Honey Dressing
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bunch kale (dinosaur or Tuscan kale are good options)
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 avocado, sliced
1. Place all dressing ingredients into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
2. Place salad ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing. Toss and serve.
3. Other tasty additions: goat cheese, feta cheese, chopped boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, grilled chicken
Pamela Rothbard is a writer and photographer living in Glencoe with her husband and two children. For more recipes, check out her website, Flour on the Floor.