We’re getting to that time of year when South Carolina farmers begin bringing seasonal produce to market. To celebrate this, I will be periodically taking a single fresh-from-the-farm ingredient and creating a multi-course menu to highlight that one item.
First up: strawberries. We’re in the middle of strawberry season now (it runs mid-April to mid-June) and Cottle Strawberry Farm is the largest grower in the Midlands with farm locations in Hopkins, Sumter and Florence.
My sister and I have aged out of picking the berries ourselves, opting for the convenience of a nearby roadside stand (besides, Shari would like to “taste-test” in the fields ... quality control, ya know).
Anyway, I’ve selected a range of sweet and savory recipes that I hope that you enjoy ... I know that my co-workers did.
Strawberry Basil Refresher
2 large strawberries
3 leaves torn basil leaves
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces club soda
Muddle strawberries, basil leaves and sugar in a small glass. Stir in gin and lemon juice. Add ice, stir and top with club soda.
Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Salad with Strawberry-Tahini Dressing
1 bunch asparagus
1 pound fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Baby spinach leaves (10-12 ounces)
Handful of raw, unsalted, chopped almonds
Feta or goat cheese (optional)
4 Tbsp sesame tahini
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Tablespoons of reserved strawberry balsamic liquid from above
1 to 3 Tbsp water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces, discarding the very bottom woody portion. Rinse strawberries, remove stems and cut in half.
On one rimmed baking sheet, toss chopped asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. On a second rimmed baking sheet, toss chopped strawberries with balsamic vinegar. Put both baking sheets in the oven to roast. After 10 minutes, remove the strawberries and set aside to cool. Give the asparagus a stir and continue roasting for another 5 minutes. Remove asparagus and set aside to cool.
Carefully transfer cooled strawberries to a colander or strainer set over a measuring cup or bowl. You want to reserve the strawberry/balsamic liquid to use in the dressing. Also collect any juices that are left in the pan.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to combine. If you do not have 4 Tablespoons of the strawberry-balsamic liquid, use plain balsamic vinegar to make up the difference. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin dressing to desired consistency.
For the salad, toss the spinach with the strawberry-tahini dressing. Divide the dressed spinach onto plates and top with the roasted strawberries, asparagus and almonds and cheese (if using). Serve.
Whipped Strawberry Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 strawberries, finely chopped
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until incorporated and the butter turns a shade of pink.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Rosemary Pork Chips with Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
4 bone-in pork chops
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
For Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper
Pat the pork chops dry with paper towel. Season with rosemary, salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Saute pork chops for 5 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.
Allow chops to rest for 3 minutes prior to cutting.
For sauce: In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the strawberries, brown sugar, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes thick.
Serve over pork chops or on the side as a dipping sauce
Strawberry Upside Down Cake
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of lemon zest
1/4 stick (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup regular sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries
Make topping first: Place butter and sugar in a saucepan. Heat and stir until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. DO NOT STIR (stirring will cause the mixture to turn grainy and you’ll have to start over).
Pour into oiled 8-inch round cake pan.
Arrange strawberry slices over the butter-sugar mixture in a single layer.
For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together eggs, sugar and salt. Add melted butter, yogurt, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix to incorporate.
Add flour and baking powder and mix until combined. Do not over mix. Pour batter over strawberry layer. Place pan in oven and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and then invert the cake onto a serving plate.