Strawberries: They’re Not Just For Shortcake

The first berries of summer

It’s hard to resist strawberries at this time of year.  Once you succumb to that impulse purchase (like I recently did), you have the thrill of figuring out what to do with them.  Sure you can add them to mixed greens or spinach salad with some lovely bits of blue or feta cheese.  Bake them into pancakes or bread.  And the dessert options are endless:  cobbler, pie, angel food cake…and of course, shortcake.  But have you tried incorporating those juicy berries into your main course?  Surpise- they can easily turn an everyday meal into simple elegance.

The sweetness of a strawberry pairs naturally well with balsamic vinegar or red wine.  And adding some of that abundance of basil in your garden cuts the sweetness.  This makes a sublime sauce to accompany almost any meat from steak to chicken or even a thick dressing for greens.  I’m trying it next with some thin veal cutlets, lump crabmeat and asparagus.  Let EDA know what fun uses you come up with for this delightful sauce.  The biggest decision you will have is whether to add blue or goat cheese.  Here’s an easy solution.  If you want a slightly sweet but creamy sauce, go with the goat.  If you want a more pungent sauce (best with steaks), go with the blue. As always at EDA, have fun experimenting.

Strawberry Basil Coulis

Ingredients

1 pint of fresh strawberries
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
10-15 basil leaves
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
Red wine
Blue or goat cheese

Directions

Puree the strawberries in a blender.  Strain to remove the seeds if desired. (I am in favor of simple recipes, so I don’t bother with straining.)  Add the balsamic, basil and lime.  Can be prepared in advance and will keep refrigerated for a couple days.  (Note: the strawberry basil puree makes a lovely adult beverage when added to an ice-filled cocktail shaker with gin or vodka.)

While the steaks or other meat are resting or when ready for the sauce, pour puree (1/4 cup for 2 or 1/2 cup for 4) into a non-stick pan and heat over medium low.  Add a few splashes of whatever red wine you’re serving with the meal and continue to heat through.  Taste.  If too sweet, add some a few dashes more lime or lemon juice.  Stir in a few dollops of goat cheese or blue cheese till incorporated and heated through. (Left is the blue; right is the goat.)  This will give the sauce a gorgeous color, mellow the sweetness and enhance the texture.  Then drizzle a bit of sauce around the plate and serve.

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