Checking the grocery ads for inspiration for this week's column, I saw that one of my favorite fruits is on sale. Strawberries are so versatile and so delicious. Whether served in some fancy fashion or with a basic pound cake, they're a great treat at this time of year.
Covering the Payson Care Center's appreciation tea for the volunteers that help the staff and residents, I enjoyed a different kind of strawberry shortcake.
The berries had been hulled and sliced and allowed to sit in sugar to enhance their juiciness and then they were served with angel food cake that had a strawberry glaze. It was fantastic.
The strawberry shortcake I grew up with had the berries treated in the same fashion, but instead of being served with a cake of some sort, my grandmother would make pie crust strips. The baked crust would soak up the juice like a sponge and be absolutely delicious.
And of course, she would have whipped topping for the dish, but it was fine without anything added.
The Better Homes and Gardens Salads cookbook includes several recipes that feature strawberries. Here are a couple of them: Tuna and Havarti Salad and Strawberries and Cream Mold.
Tuna and Havarti Salad
1 large can water-packed white tuna, drained and chilled
6 cups torn spinach or mixed salad greens
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup (4 ounces) Havarti or Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
1/2 cup creamy Parmesan or creamy cucumber dressing
Break tuna into chunks, set aside. Combine spinach, strawberries and cheese in a large salad bowl. Add tuna, top with dressing and toss.
Strawberries and Cream Mold
1, 10-ounce package of frozen, sliced strawberries, thawed (or use equivalent in fresh berries that have been hulled, sliced and allowed to sit in about 1 cup of sugar to enhance juiciness)
1 cup apple juice
1, 3-ounce package strawberry-flavored gelatin
1, 8-1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1, 8-ounce carton sour cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, finely shredded
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Drain strawberries and set aside juice. Boil 3/4 cup of the apple juice and remove from heat. Add flavored gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Add remaining apple juice and strawberry juice.
Chill to partially set (gelatin should be the consistency of raw egg whites).
Add strawberries to gelatin and pour into a 9-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking pan and chill until almost firm.
Drain pineapple and set aside juice. Combine 1/2 cup water, sugar and unflavored gelatin in a medium saucepan. Let stand until sugar and gelatin have softened. Over medium heat, stir until gelatin dissolves, then add pineapple juice, sour cream, 1/4 cup water, lemon peel and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Chill mixture to the consistency of raw eggs, then add pineapple and pour over strawberry mixture.
Chill for at least six hours, then serve on lettuce leaves.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, reduced-calorie
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 packages Sweet ‘n Low sweetener, Equal or Splenda
3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
Melt butter over low heat. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix well.
Press mixture on bottom and sides of 9-inch pie pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
Wash and slice strawberries. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup pineapple juice. Cook over low heat until thickened and clear, stirring constantly.
Add remaining pineapple juice and stir until thick. Remove from heat and add sweetener.
Stir in fruit. Spoon into graham cracker crust. Chill. Serve with low-calorie whipped topping, if desired.
Spinach, Strawberry and Pecan Salad
1 pound fresh spinach, washed and dried
1 pint strawberries, washed & halved
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Combine dressing ingredients, except the poppy seeds, in a blender. Add the poppy seeds by hand. Toss dressing with spinach, strawberries and hot pecans. The hot nuts will slightly wilt the greens.