the best time of the year. Itís strawberry time.
juicy. So sweet. So delicious. So soft-tender on your
sensation in the world can compare to eating a plump,
sun-warmed strawberry straight off the vine. It is all that
is good about the world, concentrated into one perfect,
are the fifth most popular fruit in the United States. In
2012, America grew more than 3 billion pounds of the
berries. In fact, if you took all the strawberries grown in
California alone and laid them end to end, they would circle
the globe 15 times.
a lot of berries.
why not? Almost everybody loves strawberries. Theyíre good
for you ó ounce for ounce, they contain more vitamin C
than citrus fruit ó and a full cup of them has only 50
calories, according to the University of Illinois Extension.
celebration of the powerfully flavorful little fruit, I made
three dishes. One was a straight-up dessert, one was an
appetizer that was nevertheless somewhat sweet and one, just
to be ornery, was an entree.
donít usually see strawberries in entrees. But I think youíll
like this one. Itís grilled chicken breasts with
strawberry red wine balsamic sauce. The recipe comes from
Driscollís, the largest supplier of strawberries in the
start with the first part first: the boneless, skinless
chicken breasts are grilled (or in my case, cooked on a
grill pan). That gives them the inimitable, hearty taste of
a grill (or a grill pan) that happens to pair particularly
well with the sweet lightness of fruit.
brings us to the second part: the strawberry red-wine
balsamic sauce. Flavored with shallots, garlic, bay leaf and
thyme, this sauce has a warm and earthy taste that melds
pleasantly with the grilled goodness of the chicken.
brings us to the third part: the strawberries themselves.
Although most of the strawberries are cooked into the sauce,
others are sliced and laid on top of the meat. They add not
only a hint of sweetness to the dish but also an
unexpectedly tart undertone that plays off the warmth of the
all on a bed of rice, and you have a deliciously different
the appetizer course, I made a soup that is even more
deliciously different. Strawberry soup, of course.
recipe from the Food Network is deceptively easy to make,
yet it packs a remarkably satisfying sweet-and-creamy punch.
All you do is throw some strawberries, half and half, sour
cream, sugar and lemon juice into a blender or food
processor and puree it all together.
result is a thick, rich soup that would be just the thing on
a hot summerís day. You wouldnít want to eat too much of
it ó this is definitely an appetizer ó but a little bit
would make a smooth and elegant introduction to any
strawberry dessert I made would also be perfect for serving
to guests. Strawberry Mascarpone Trifle is a little more
complicated, but only a little. It involves four different
layers that should be assembled at the last minute, but each
one can be made a day ahead of serving.
bottom layer is the easiest of all: ladyfingers. Go to a
store and buy ladyfingers (I went to an Italian specialty
store on the Hill, but many grocers also carry them).
of them goes a strawberry puree, which is made by gently
heating strawberries and sugar for a couple of minutes and
then pureeing them.
layer on top of that is sliced strawberries that have been
macerating in a bit of sugar and lemon juice until they swim
in their sweet juices.
the layer on top of that is a quick mixture of mascarpone
cheese, yogurt, vanilla and sugar. This combination is an
intriguing alternative to the custard found in most trifles,
and the yogurt gives it a lively tang.
have any strawberries left over, you might want to place a
whole, fresh berry on the top of every serving. It just
looks right. It just feels right.
better way to celebrate the wonders found at this, the best
time of the year?
pints fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained and hulled
cup granulated sugar
of half a lemon
cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 or 2
drops of pure vanilla extract
Slice 1 pint of the strawberries thin and put them in a
bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and the lemon juice.
Toss lightly and set aside for 15 minutes.
Coarsely chop the remaining strawberries and put them in a
small, nonreactive saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
Cover and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the
berries give off a fair amount of liquid, about 2 to 3
minutes. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a food
processor and process to a smooth puree. Scrape the puree
into a small bowl.
the mascarpone, yogurt, vanilla and remaining 4 tablespoons
of sugar in a small bowl and stir with a rubber spatula or
wooden spoon until just smooth.
assemble the trifle, split the ladyfingers in half and lay 4
halves in each of the 4 individual dessert bowls. Divide the
strawberry puree among the bowls, spreading it over the
ladyfingers. Cover each one with some of the strawberries
and their juice, then top with a generous spoonful of the
serving: 426 calories; 23 g fat; 12 g saturated fat; 103 mg
cholesterol; 7 g protein; 53 g carbohydrate; 35 g sugar; 4 g
fiber; 68 mg sodium; 127 mg calcium.
by Ken Haedrich from "Cooking From the Garden"
6 to 8 servings
pints strawberries, washed and hulled
cup granulated sugar
tablespoons lemon juice
leaves, for garnish
blender or food processor, puree strawberries. Pour into a
large bowl and add half and half, sour cream, sugar and
lemon juice. Stir until well-combined. Chill. Serve with
garnish of mint leaves.
serving (based on 8): 141 calories; 8 g fat; 5 g saturated
fat; 24 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 13 g
sugar; 2 g fiber; 32 mg sodium; 70 mg calcium.
by Curtis Aikens, via Food Network
CHICKEN BREASTS WITH STRAWBERRY RED WINE BALSAMIC SAUCE
package (16 ounces or 3 cups) strawberries, divided
teaspoons light olive or vegetable oil, divided
cups sliced shallots
clove garlic, pressed or chopped
small bay leaf
teaspoons dried thyme leaves
tablespoons balsamic vinegar
cups red wine
cups chicken broth
teaspoons cold water
and pepper, to taste
skinless, boneless chicken breasts (4 to 5 ounces each)
Hull and slice strawberries. Set aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small saucepan over medium-high
heat. Add shallots, garlic, bay leaf and thyme and stir
until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sliced
strawberries and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add
balsamic vinegar and simmer 1 minute. Add wine and simmer
until liquid is reduced to about half. Add broth and simmer
Whisk cornstarch and water together. Add mixture to saucepan
and boil for 1 minute, stirring until thickened. Strain
sauce and season with salt and pepper. Reheat just before
Coat chicken with remaining 2 teaspoons oil; season lightly
with salt and pepper. Grill or broil 4 to 5 minutes per
side, until internal temperature is 170 degrees. Serve
chicken surrounded by remaining sliced berries and warm
serving: 248 calories; 8 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 63 mg
cholesterol; 25 g protein; 16 g carbohydrate; 9 g sugar; 3 g
fiber; 236 mg sodium; 47 mg calcium.
by Driscoll Strawberry Associates