Everything But Shortcake: Other Ideas For Luscious Strawberries
Spring means romance and strawberries.
In some regions, one feeds off another at strawberry socials, an old-fashioned version of speed dating where young gentlemen and ladies meet in the church hall for shortcake, pie and perusal.
Mating rituals have changed drastically, as have strawberries and their uses.
Strawberries are now available year-round, therefore less glamorous. But nothing even comes close to perfectly ripe, just-picked local berries.
And, while rich homemade biscuits and softly whipped cream will always be the backdrop of choice, strawberries are branching out:
Strawberry Spinach Salad
This stunning marriage of colors, textures and flavors will wow family or luncheon guests.
Trim stems off about six cups organic baby spinach leaves. Wash, if desired, and roll up in a terry towel to dry completely.
Toss spinach with thinly sliced, unblemished white mushrooms and paper-thin slices of red onion. Just before serving, add a pint of small ripe strawberries, hulled but left whole, and 1 cup or less crumbled goat cheese (chevre).
Toss with vinaigrette: To 1/2 cup "light-tasting" olive oil, add juice of a fresh lemon, 1/2 cup heavy syrup from canned peaches, a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
Do not overdress this salad -- use just enough vinaigrette to glisten the spinach leaves.
Options: Sliced fresh mozzarella balls instead of goat cheese and/or a few shredded mint leaves.
Peel and chop three large very ripe tomatoes and one medium apple. Put in saucepan with a small Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 cup apple cider, a dash of vinegar, several dashes of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Add 2 cups sliced ripe strawberries and continue simmering, uncovered, until berries are falling apart and liquid has thickened.
Chill overnight to blend flavors.
Serve with pork, poultry, seafood or over brown rice.
Strawberry Tea Sandwiches
Cut crusts from Very Thin Pepperidge Farm or Arnold white bread. Spread lightly with plain or chive whipped cream cheese.
Lay thinly sliced strawberries over cheese; top with a second slice of bread spread with cheese. Cut diagonally into two or four pieces.
Shrimp and Strawberry Appetizer
Arrange very thin slices of unpeeled English (seedless) cucumber and strawberries in a circular pattern around a small plate. Place three or four cooked jumbo shrimp, tails on, in center.
Serve with cocktail sauce or a mixture of cocktail sauce, mayonnaise and red pepper relish.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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