Can a Strawberry Be Savory?
A big shout-out to the strawberry, who's back in town and making Washington area farm markets a little more gorgeous.
A member of the rose family, the strawberry is unlike her other berry brethren, as she's the only one that keeps her seeds in full view, on the skin. Of all the berry options to come our way this summer, the strawberry is fairly low on my list (I'm much more excited about the impending arrival of blueberries, which I can eat by the pint.), but now that I've read in Dana Jacobi's new book, "The Essential Best Foods Cookbook," that one cup of strawberries contains 140 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, I'm reconsidering my position.
That stunning shade of red isn't just for show, by the way. In those come-hither pigments are powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which protect us from our brain going down the drain as we creak on in years.
Even if I find her too sweet, I think I can find a way to love her. Perhaps a savory twist is in order. After all, I much prefer
apple pie, when it's seasoned with rosemary and pine nuts, and I'm a sucker for pineapple chunks mingling with chilis, peanuts and cilantro. Pears with blue cheese, melon and prosciutto -- I can do this!
To get the savory strawberry party started, I rang up my pal Bill Addison, the one person on the planet who understands my savory fruit fixation.
"Arugula," he said, an idea which immediately took me back to the dreamy strawberry-spinach salad I had this winter in Costa Rica (recipe below the jump). Yes, peppery arugula -- but what else? We decided on pecans and goat cheese, promising salad companions that would offer both fat and tang, crunch and creaminess.
We hung up, and I got to thinking, I like pineapple on my pizza; what if I did it up with strawberries instead? And would I add red sauce, too? A bit of online searching brought me to this curious recipe for spaghetti with strawberries, with pureed berries incorporated into the marinara sauce. Too weird? Or weird enough to be the best new thing that's happened to pasta?
And think how stunning a bowl of strawberry-topped risotto would be! Garnished with basil, lots of black pepper and a smidge of mascarpone instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Hmm...am I on a inspired roll or am I delusional? Weigh in and set me straight or keep the savory thread going. I eagerly await your ideas and recipe suggestions!
P.S.: For those of you more interested the strawberry as a sweet, check out my laundry list of ideas from last year's blog space.
from Chef Luis Protti at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica
1/4 cup vegetable oil (he recommends something neutral, like Canola)
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon each sesame seeds and poppy seeds
Salt to taste
1 bunch spinach, cleaned, dried, stemmed and chopped
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced (alternatively 1-2 mangoes, peeled and diced)
Pour oil into a small mixing bowl, then whisk in vinegar and sugar until blended. Add paprika and seeds, then salt to taste. In a large serving bowl, pour vinaigrette over spinach and fruit and toss to completely coat. Serve immediately.
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