There's nothing like a freshly picked strawberry, nothing. The ones you buy in the dead of winter in the supermarket, have nothing on the ones you get from your nearby farm. Local strawberries are sweet, red, they melt in your mouth. So when Foodbuzz asked for ideas for this month's 24x24 dinner extravaganza, I knew June and strawberries, well, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. What's ahead in this post - is a 4-course meal, based entirely on strawberries and their many uses. Even if you're not local to New England, please read on, there's a reason I'm telling you all of this.
|Cider Hill Farm, Amesbury, Ma.|
|rows and rows of strawberries|
|Picking my own strawberries|
|my box of strawberries - 6.5 pounds|
The amazing meal I'm about to tell you about wouldn't be possible if not for the folks at Cider Hill Farm and their hard work. Not to mention, they saved me a bundle. I picked 6.5 pounds of strawberries at $2.75 a pound. I'll have enough for this meal, jam, and frozen strawberries that will last me well into the winter. So without further ado, I give you a dinner party I appropriately named after one of my favorite Beatles tunes, "Strawberry Fields Forever".
Course 1: Chilled Strawberry Tequila Soup
A lot of chilled strawberry soup recipes call for some kind of dairy. I'm not a fan of chilled soups that are creamy, for some reason, I always want them to be heated up. I did my own variation that's dairy-free, but unbelievably refreshing.
4 cups whole strawberries, washed and hulled
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons sugar
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup good tequila
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 a lime, sliced, for garnish
Place strawberries into a food processor and puree until chunky. Next, add the rest of your ingredients and pulse in food processor until well combined. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour. Serve in bowls, garnish with fresh lime slices.
Course 2: Spinach and Strawberry Salad
Strawberries are perfect paired with another in-season favorite, spinach. This is versatile. Swap out the feta with gorgonzola or blue cheese. Instead of red wine vinaigrette, whip up some poppyseed dressing. Add candied walnuts or slivered almonds. All are fantastic.
4 cups spinach, chopped (or 4 cups baby spinach)
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup feta
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Source: Giada de Laurentiis
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil
For the Salad
Toss together all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Set aside while you make the dressing.
Preparing the Dressing
Combine red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Pulse to combine and then while the machine is running, add olive oil until all ingredients come together.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.
Course 3: Strawberry-Balsamic Flank Steak
This is a savory use for strawberries. They're not only for sweet uses. Macerating the berries in balsamic vinegar or red wine for a few hours turn them into a perfect topping for beef, chicken, or pork. The brown sugar rub included in this recipe is amazing for any kind of beef cut you put on the grill.
|brown sugar dry-rub|
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Brown Sugar Rub
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chipolte chile powder
1/8 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika can be used as well)
1.25 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup crumbles gorgonzola cheese
Preparing the Strawberry-Balsamic Topping
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside at room-temperature to macerate, about 2 hours.
Preparing the Brown Sugar Rub
Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well-combined. This is enough for 1-1.25 pounds of meat. Feel free to double or triple or even more for larger cuts or to have some on hand at any point. Store in an airtight container if not using right away.
Preparing the flank steak
Trim the flank steak to your liking. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to desired thinness (this will also help tenderize this cut of meat). Take pounded cut and rub your try rub in, using all of it, on both sides so the meat is covered. Now, grill to your desired doneness (we like medium rare in this house). Take off the grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so. Slice into 4 pieces. Serve topped with balsamic strawberries and crumbled gorgonzola cheese.
Course 4: Lemon & Strawberry-Grand Marnier Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sorry folks, you'll have to tune in next Sunday for how to make this one up. I know, I'm such a tease. This post is already so epic, it's time to take a little break. Next Sunday will be part two of strawberry fun. We'll talk how to make strawberry ice cream and these lovely treats. We'll also talk about ways to stretch your strawberry haul well into the dead of winter.
I hope you enjoyed this trip through the strawberry fields. Our dinner guests definitely did.
What's your favorite way to use strawberries? I'm dying for a perfect strawberry cordial recipe, please comment and share below if you have one of those or any other strawberry recipe. I'd love to feature a collection of your ideas in next Sunday's post!