Springtime is here and has brought its first fruits…yes, my fellow foodies, it is strawberry season.  Those luscious, heart-shaped mounds of sweet juiciness are at their sweetest. I picked up some from Harris Teeter in Shirlington on Monday and they were just perfect.  No wonder they are the most popular berry in the world!

Packed with vitamins, fiber, and high levels of antioxidants, strawberries are a sodium-free, gat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food.  One serving of strawberries – about eight – provides more vitamin C than an orange. Strawberries are a great way to get your five servings of fruit daily, because it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. You can eat it with your breakfast cereal or yogurt, dress up your lunchtime salad or cottage cheese, or finish your great dinner with a sweet dessert.

Strawberries are very perishable, so they should be purchased a few days or the same day as you plan to use them.  Choose berries that are firm, plump, free of mold, and which have a shiny, deep red color and attached green caps.  Medium-sized strawberries are often more flavorful than those that are excessively large.  If you are buying strawberries in a prepackaged container, make sure that they aren’t packaged tightly and that the container doesn’t have anystains or that there isn’t a lot of moisture inside.  Before you store them in your refrigerator, remove any that are molded or damaged so that they won’t contaminate the rest of the pack.  Strawberries will keep in the refrigerator for about two days, so don’t overdo it unless you are planning to use them within that period of time.  You can also freeze whole or cut strawberries for future use. Wash strawberries just before eating.

So, now comes the fun part. If you were expecting strawberry shortcake, you are mistaken! I’ve got two recipes for you…so head to the farmer’s market and let’s get cooking!

 Strawberry Muffins

(you can also use blueberries in this recipe!)

  •  2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped (about 2 cups strawberries)
  • Additional sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir until well blended. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries.  Using a large spoon, gently fold ingredients just until moist (do not overmix). Spoon batter equally into muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about ½ teaspoon of sugar, if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes.

 Makes 12 muffins

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 For those who are trying to stay away from the sweets, here is a savory take on a spring fruit.

 Strawberry Salad with Grilled Shrimp

 For the salad:

  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cups strawberries (about 1 pint), hulled and sliced
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 2 small green onions, sliced
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined

 For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • Pinch of salt and ground pepper

 Combine all salad ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl and toss gently. Grill shrimp (either on an outdoor or stove-top grill) until pink. To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl; slowly whisk in olive oil. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.  Divide salad and arrange grilled shrimp on top. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.

 Makes 4 servings

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Enjoy the fruits of the season!

Happy Eating!

The Fab Foodie

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