I have loved strawberries ever since I was a little girl. Though these sweet red berries were often present in my home throughout the year, they always tasted best at the peak of their season. I typically ended up eating them straight out of the basket, or folded into some yogurt for breakfast. Over the years, I've learned that this fruit is far more versatile than I once thought, and I've started to use strawberries in new ways, for breakfast, lunch, and dessert.
Now that summer is in full swing, many farmers markets are overflowing with vibrant, freshly picked strawberries, all of which are begging to be used in your next meal. Here are some of my favorite ways to make the most of all those juicy red berries.
Fennel and cabbage salad
Here, strawberries shine as the main ingredient in a salad that is perfect for either lunch or dinner. Toss finely sliced cabbage and fennel in a bowl with toasted pepitas, quartered strawberries, and torn mint leaves. Dress the crunchy vegetables — and sweet berries — in a tangy dressing made with Greek yogurt, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey. Use any leftover dressing to marinate fish or chicken, or as a dip for vegetables.
While your strawberries are fresh from the market, celebrate their beauty in its purest form. Bake your favorite tart crust (miniature or regular-sized), fill it with a honey-sweetened, vanilla bean-specked pastry cream, then top it with sliced strawberries.
Instead of preparing a traditional bowl of oatmeal over the stove top, let your oven do the work. Toss oats, pepitas, baking powder, allspice, and chia seeds together, then mix the dry ingredients with milk, melted coconut oil, and honey. Bake in a skillet with a layer of sliced strawberries and banana in between, letting the flavors slowly come together as you get ready for your day. Play around with different nuts and fruits to make this meal your own.
Strawberry lavender lemonade
I drink a lot of lemonade in the summertime, and I thought that adding some freshly puréed strawberries and a bit of lavender would be a nice change of pace. It's also a great way to use strawberries that are looking less than perfect a few days after purchase. The sweetness of the strawberries pairs nicely with the lavender and lemon, making it an ideal drink to enjoy on a bright and sunny day. Begin by infusing a honey simple syrup with dried lavender. While the lavender steeps, blend the strawberries until they're smooth, then add the juice of about six lemons. Strain the simple syrup into the strawberry-lemon mixture and chill. Add freshly diced strawberries and a lemon wedge to each glass before serving.
Roasted strawberry and hazelnut cake
After you've had your berries for several days, they may no longer be at their peak: Roasting is the perfect solution. Simply bake the berries at high heat with a bit of coconut oil and maple syrup to reveal a new and unexpected degree of flavor. You can add them to a cake, as in the recipe below, or spoon them over ice cream or yogurt. Whatever you decide, this recipe will not disappoint.
Makes one 9-inch cake
For the roasted strawberries
8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the yogurt cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: 5 pints of strawberries, 5 summer recipes
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