We’re edging into strawberry season, which means that in warmer parts of the country those fragrant, ruby-hued berries are popping up at the farmers markets, and pick-your-own operations are finally open for business. In cooler areas, we’re relying on supermarket berries for now, but even those are flavorful and juicy at this time of year.
Trust us when we say that this isn’t your everyday fruit dessert. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week (pictured above) starts with juicy, fresh strawberries and transforms them with an ingredient sidekick: balsamic vinegar. Not just for your salad dressings, this tangy vinegar turns sweet and syrupy when reduced, and offers a welcome bite when paired with the berries. Serve the strawberries atop smooth vanilla-laced ricotta cheese for a cool, creamy treat that’s surprisingly healthy (yes, really).
For more sweet and savory favorites, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook Comfort Food board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream
I like to cook with my 8-year-old. It’s way more fun than room cleaning and other required household activities. Recently, I decided to bring our pastime into her third-grade class and make strawberry shortcakes with them. I was nervous. I have stage fright. Also, though I have made this dish dozens of times, I have no prior experience doing it with the help of 19 small friends. (Hats off to all teachers in the land, by the way.)
I figured that strawberry shortcakes would be a good teaching dish; most kids like this springy dessert, making it does not require tons of technical skill, and the recipe has three parts to keep kids engaged. To make it easier, I chose the simplest cream biscuit recipe I knew, and measured out the ingredients ahead of time. (I sliced the berries too, because that’s time-consuming and a little boring.)
The primary reason to show kids how to make this is that someday our kids will be old enough to cook by themselves, and if they know how to make strawberry shortcakes, they might make some for us. Don’t I want that to happen? Yes, I do.
Here’s what you need to make strawberry shortcake with your own group of kids. Below, I am including a prep list, an equipment checklist and the recipe. Scale it up for every 12 kids you want to feed. It is possible, with some extra preparation, to sneak in other skills, like addition, multiplication, division and fractions, and how to read and follow instructions. Use the shopping list and class plan to help simplify the work. Use the checklist to pack and to plan, and the class itself will go pretty smoothly. As it turns out, this third-grade class was a friendly audience. They were curious and helpful, and loved eating their work.
From shortcake and pie to fruit salads and parfaits, this ruby-red berry is the star of some classic desserts. While no one can deny the appeal of traditional combinations — like strawberries and rhubarb, or strawberries and whipped cream — this versatile fruit pairs well with infinite other ingredients. Here are a few unexpected flavor combos to help you experience strawberries in a whole new light.
I can still taste the tang of fresh rhubarb as my mom picked long stalks of the stuff from our garden as a kid. (I also remember yelling to my friends who always seemed to be grabbing it for a snack, “No! That’s not celery!”) But what a transformation: How soft rhubarb became in the oven, set in a custard pie filling along with sweet strawberries. Strawberry-rhubarb is the killer combination of spring. So as those first stalks are spotted in markets everywhere, these recipes are on our radar:
The Classic Approach:
1. Rhubarb Custard Pie: This is it! This is exactly the sweet and creamy pie I remember, the one I’ll make for our kids this spring.
We’re finally in the early days of strawberry season, which means it’s time to ditch those firm, dry, white-centered berries we know from winter and welcome in their place spring’s juicy, ruby-red beauties. While desserts like shortcakes, cheesecake and cupcakes are tried-and-true ways to put these sweet bites to work, savory favorites, too, are ideal for letting strawberries shine. If you’ve never before worked with strawberries in a non-dessert, try starting with a salad; you’ll be able to balance the fruit’s natural sugars with tangy, acidic flavors in the dressing and peppery greens, which means you won’t end up eating a too-sweet dish. Check out Food Network’s best-five strawberry salads below, each an easy-to-make pick that’s ready to eat in 25 minutes or fewer.
5. Strawberry and Mozzarella Salad — Think of this healthy 15-minute dish as a berry-focused take on a caprese. In place of traditional tomatoes there are bright strawberries instead, which pair well with the fragrant basil.
4. Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette — It takes just a few everyday ingredients and only five quick minutes to make Rachael Ray’s simple salad. The secret to guaranteeing bold strawberry flavor in her recipe is the strawberry jam featured in her dressing, plus a whole pint of the fresh fruit.
Here in New York City, strawberries arriving at the farmers market signal the arrival of summer and all the glorious fresh fruit waiting just around the corner. The simplest and often tastiest way to enjoy them is to pluck the stems from the top, and pop them in your mouth. Every now and then, I get fooled by a batch of berries that smell intoxicatingly sweet, only to bite into them and find my taste buds crestfallen. When that happens, there are a few things you can do to coax some flavor from your berries — jam and pie are usually at the top of my list. A more hands-off approach is roasting them. The oven does most of the work. The sauce can then be used as syrup for pancakes or a topping for sundaes, stirred into some plain yogurt for an inexpensive and healthier fruit-flavored version, or my other favorite — stirred into some sparkling water or seltzer for a summer spritzer.
I went to the farmers’ market to get strawberries. I thought I might have missed their short season, but they were in fact there. And then, as if I were somewhere I might never visit again, I suddenly needed everything else there, too.
I hadn’t thought of tea radishes or pink or icicle radishes either — or purple, yellow or white spring onions, carrots, herbs, peonies, tiny, odd lettuces — or shell peas. I didn’t need snap peas, but there they were, tight in their skins, like a bin full of miniature blimps. I wanted to see them again, so I took a picture. The farmer said I could even taste one. Almost involuntarily, I found myself unfurling a bag from the roll and stuffing some in.
The less common the vegetables were, the more I suddenly needed them. And now that I already had to carry a bag, there wasn’t much reason not to quench my drought of fresh chamomile flowers, or to fill the now obvious garlic-scape chasm in my life. I pressured a nearby stranger who claimed not to know what to do with radishes to drag them through butter and dab them in salt, and later saw her headed to the register with three bunches.