Strawberries add a taste of summer to meals

A quintessential seasonal fruit, fresh picked berries add brightness to every aspect of seasonal foods

    The much-anticipated strawberry season is heating up at local pick-your-own operations, including Walvoord’s Berry Farm in rural Cedar Grove.
    After all, these ripe red berries are one of the quintessential tastes of summer — and we’ve been waiting a long time for summer to arrive.
    They’re a versatile fruit as well, delicious on their own but also a delightful ingredient in all types of food, from appetizers to entrees, and from drinks to desserts.
    Fresh strawberries are a welcome addition to a summer fruit salad. Or you can dress fresh berries with a mixture of 1 cup honey and 1/4 cup lime juice, then sprinkle them with toasted coconut.
    For a simple but delicious dessert,  dip berries in melted chocolate. Or try dipping berries in balsamic vinegar and then powdered sugar.
    To quench your thirst, you can go with a traditional shake or malt or just throw a few strawberries in a blender with lemonade and ice to create a frosty drink.
    Strawberries — the first fruit of the summer — are a healthy snack, packed with folic acid, potassium and fiber. Fat-free and low in calories, just eight medium-sized strawberries contain 160% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.
    They are widely available in the supermarket, but pick-your-own operations give families a first-hand experience in growing berries — and the cool, wet weather early in the season means that strawberries are extra sweet and juicy this picking season.
    When picking your own, it’s recommended that you select firm berries that are evenly shaped and medium to large in size. The coloring should be even and bright red.
    And while filling containers of berries, don’t forget to taste a few. That’s one of the biggest perks of picking your own fruit.
    Following are strawberry recipes from and

Strawberry Cheesecakeadilla

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large flour tortillas
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
    Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese for two to three minutes. Add sugar and beat one minute, until combined.
    Spread the inside of one tortilla with cream cheese mixture. Place second tortilla on top. Brush both sides with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
    In a large skillet over medium heat, cook about five minutes, until golden and crispy, then flip and cook five minutes more.
    In a small pot over low heat, cook strawberries about five minutes, until bubbly and syrupy. Stir in cornstarch.
    Remove cheesecakeadilla from heat and top with warm strawberry sauce. Serve sliced into triangles.
    Makes four servings.


Grilled Strawberries

1 pound strawberries
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch kosher salt
Lemon wedges
    Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes. Thread strawberries onto skewers from stem to tip.
    In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, honey, lemon zest and kosher salt. Brush onto skewers.
    Heat grill or grill pan to medium and grill strawberries on each side until slightly charred. Brush with butter mixture as they cook.
    Remove from heat, squeeze lemon on top and serve.
    Makes four servings.


Campfire Strawberries

24 strawberries
1 cup marshmallow Fluff
    Pierce strawberries with a skewer. Place fluff in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave five seconds, until melty. Dip strawberries in marshmallow fluff. Roast on a flame until toasted and serve.
    Makes 24 strawberries.


Red, White and Blue Cheesecake Strawberries

8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipped topping
10 strawberries, halved
30 blueberries
    In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy and combined. Fold in whipped topping.
    Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe over cut side of strawberry. Top with blueberries and serve.
    Makes 20 strawberries.


Strawberry Cheesecake Skillet Cake

For cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups. strawberries, hulled and quartered
Juice of 1/2 lemon
For cheesecake:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour, baking soda and salt and beat until just combined. Add buttermilk and mix until smooth.
    Combine strawberries and lemon juice, then fold into cake batter.
    In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat until combined.
    Pour cake batter into a greased 10-inch oven-proof skillet, then dollop cheesecake on top and swirl with a knife into batter. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
    Makes 10 servings.


Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecakes

14 graham crackers, crushed
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup melted chocolate
12 strawberries
    In a large bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, melted butter and salt and stir until completely moistened. Press graham mixture into 12 paper cupcake liners coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Pour filling over graham crusts.
    Bake in a 325-degree oven for 20 minutes, until center is slightly jiggly. Let cool in muffin tin, then refrigerate at least two hours.
    Spoon melted chocolate over cheesecake tops, then dip strawberries in melted chocolate and rest on top. Let set until firm.
    Makes 12 servings.

Strawberry Pistachio Quinoa With Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons. red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup crumbled garlic and herb feta or feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped red onion

    In medium saucepot, bring two cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add quinoa. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, stir to fluff, then let stand, covered, five minutes.
    In serving dish, combine olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, oregano, sugar, kosher salt and pepper until blended. Stir in quinoa, strawberries, pistachios, feta and red onion until evenly coated.
    Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
    Makes four servings.


Strawberry Caprese With Lemon and Basil

2 dozen small to medium sized fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Zest of 1 medium-sized lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into 2 dozen cubes
1 dozen medium-sized fresh strawberries, washed and dried, stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper

    In a small bowl, combine basil leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, salt and sugar.
Add cubed mozzarella and gently toss, making sure all of the cheese is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
    Cut strawberries horizontally into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Remove marinating cheese from the refrigerator, then place 12 of the largest strawberry slices on a serving plate. Place one piece of cheese on top of each strawberry piece, being sure to pick up bits of basil and lemon zest with each. Add a second slice of strawberry on top, followed by another piece of cheese and gently stick a toothpick through each stack.
    Crack black pepper over the entire plate and serve.
    To thinly slice the basil, pile the leaves on top of each other to form a stack. Roll them up tightly, lengthwise, and then horizontally, cut this roll into thin slices.


Grilled Chicken Breasts With Strawberry Basil Pesto

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple
1 scallion, sliced on diagonal
2 tablespoons  chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

    Season chicken breasts with kosher salt, cracked black pepper and garlic powder. Grill over direct heat until juices run clear, turning once. Chicken is done when a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees.
    Combine strawberries, pineapple, scallion, basil, white balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Stir until combined.
    Arrange chicken on serving platter. Top with salsa.
    Makes four servings.


Fruity Summer Shrimp Salad With Strawberry Lime Poppyseed Vinaigrette

For shrimp:
Juice and zest from one lime
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
For salad:
Romaine or mixed greens
2 cups fruit such as mango, pineapple and watermelon
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
For vinaigrette:
1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

    To make vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients except poppy seeds in a blender or mini food processor. Blend until pureed and emulsified. Stir in poppy seeds.
    Whisk together lime zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add shrimp and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.
    Cook shrimp on the grill or pan on the stove for a couple of minutes per side, until cooked through. Set aside.
    Divide lettuce and fruit between two plates or bowls. Top with shrimp, goat cheese and pine nuts.
    Makes two servings


Five-Ingredient Strawberry Red Wine Glazed Salmon

1 to 1-1/2 pound salmon filet
1/2 cup hearty red wine
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup quartered strawberries

    Season salmon with salt and pepper, then place in a plastic storage bag or, flesh side down, in a shallow pan. Whisk together wine and marmalade, then pour about 1/4 cup of the mixture over the salmon. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
    Set aside remainder of the marinade.
    Preheat broiler, place salmon on broiler pan and season with salt and pepper. Broil salmon for 10 to 12 minutes, until nearly cooked through.
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook about three minutes, to soften the onion. Reduce heat to low, add red wine and marmalade mixture and reduce slightly.
    Remove salmon from the broiler, then add strawberries and salmon to the skillet. Cook salmon for another five minutes or so, basting sauce over salmon until sauce has thickened and salmon is glazed and cooked through to desired doneness.




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