By Kelly Byers, Contributing Writer:
I love strawberries, mostly because they carry the banner of summer, promising even more scrumptious fruit to dribble juice down my chin in the months to come.
Because our succulent strawberries (which did you know aren't botanically a berry?) will only be with us for a few more weeks, it's important you scarf them up at the market and incorporate them into every dish you can. Here are some recipes to help you mix the fruit into every course. Consider this an adult version of sneaking spinach into your kid's mac and cheese. While the strawberry lends a bit of juicy intrigue to each of these dishes, you certainly won't be overwhelmed.
We're going to start with dessert, of course!
Grilled Strawberry Milkshake
I do not like strawberry ice cream or milk shakes (unless there's copious amounts of cheesecake bites and I'm stealing a sip from my boyfriend...) but I like this recipe. The grill brings out an intriguing sweetness to the strawberry that I really enjoy.
5 cups strawberries, cleaned and hulled
~1 ½ cup of your favorite vanilla ice cream
~1/2 cup of milk of choice
Turn grill on high, and let it heat up while you hull the strawberries. Place whole strawberries on aluminum foil and grill, covered, for about 10 minutes. You can walk away for a minute and make yourself a cocktail (below), but you want to your fruit somewhere between just starting to juice and before burned. Remove from grill and place in fridge to chill. Once you've eaten dinner, drop your grilled strawberries, ice cream, and milk (a little at a time) in a blender and blend until smooth. Get creative by adding chocolate, banana, or any other mix in of your choice. Makes about two small milkshakes.
Herbal Strawberry Cocktail
2-3 Strawberries thinly sliced
4 basil leaves
4 mint leaves
4 lemon balm leaves
vodka or gin
Muddle strawberry slices and herb leaves (I used what was growing in my yard, feel free to experiment) with a muddler or spoon in a rocks glass. Add ice, one ounce of vodka or gin, and top with club soda. Squeeze in a bit of lemon. This will give you a refreshing, herbal beverage. If you prefer your drinks a tad sweeter, muddle in some sugar from the start, mix in a bit of simple syrup, or cut the club soda with ginger ale or lemonade. The best part is eating the strawberries at the end. Makes one cocktail.
Classic Strawberry Spinach Salad
This is certainly not a recipe I came up with, but it's one I never tire of. How can you go wrong with sweet berries, goat cheese, and nuts? Any of the homemade flavors from TRFM Vendor, Culinary Food CONCEPTS, would surely make this salad special, but to spice things up, I tried it with the jalapeno sea salt almonds and it was delicious!
Spinning spider goat cheese
Dressing of choice (I recommend raspberry, poppy seed, or balsamic vinaigrette)
Mix and enjoy!
Strawberry Leek Grilled Cheese
Several years ago I came across this recipe for a Strawberry Leek Quesidella, but in the spirit of sourcing as many ingredients as possible from our beloved Travelers Rest Farmers Market, I decided to try this on a sandwich. It did not disappoint. A note: I am banned from eating alliums because, unfortunately, they tend to stay with me for several days, but leeks are an exception to the rule. They have a sweet, mild flavor and don't wear our their welcome.
Oil of choice
5-7 strawberries, cleaned, hulled, sliced
Leek, cleaned, white and light green parts only
4 slices of bread (try Great Harvest, Upcountry Provisions, or Swamp Rabbit Cafe)
Spinning Spider goat cheese (plain or herbed is fine)
Spinning Spider feta cheese
salt and pepper
Heat about one tablespoon of oil on medium low heat. Slice leek in half long ways, and cut in thin half moons. Heat in oil with some salt, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Once finished, move to a separate bowl. Heat about ½ tablespoon of oil and place slice of bread in pan. Layer cheeses (as much as you want; far be of me to limit you of mass quantities of tangy goodness), half of the strawberries, leeks to taste, salt and pepper, and more cheese. Top with a slice of bread. Cook on each side about three minutes. Repeat. Makes two sandwiches.