By Allison Sarkesian
I’ve been a warm-weather person for as long as I can remember. I rejoice when the dark Midwestern winters finally fade into the longer days of spring; and no matter how hot it gets, summer has always been my favorite season. My fondness for this time of year is due largely to the fact that sunny days and warm temperatures bring with them many of the things I enjoy most: more time spent outdoors, new blooms in nature, and fresh, sweet fruit.
Although many grocery stores supply a variety of fruit year-round, nothing compares to the truly incredible taste of fresh, in-season produce. Whether I’m munching on a juicy peach, plump strawberry, or a sweet slice of watermelon, it all tastes better in the summer. And as much as I enjoy eating fruit all on its own, I also love to incorporate it into my cooking and baking. I’m always on the lookout for great fruit dishes to add a little taste of summer to my day. These fruity recipes can be enjoyed any time of the year, but if you’re like me, you’ll get a little more joy from the extra-fresh taste that comes with eating in season.
Strawberry spinach salad
Yields 6 servings.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
To make vinaigrette: In medium bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until blended. Set aside.
10 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, divided
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
To make salad: Wash spinach and dry well. Trim off thick stems. Tear larger leaves into smaller pieces, making sure leaves are manageable with fork. Place in large bowl.
Toss 1 cup berries, mushrooms, and onions with spinach. Just prior to serving, toss salad with 1/3 cup dressing (reserving the rest for another time), and arrange remaining strawberries on top.
Note: Spinach can be prepared several hours ahead of time if dried well and kept in refrigerator. Prepare strawberries no earlier than 1 hour before serving so they don’t become mushy.
Grilled chicken and peach kebabs
Yields 4 servings.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup coarse grainy mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
16 cremini mushrooms
3 ripe peaches, cut into 8 wedges each
8 wooden or metal skewers
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces; set aside.
In small bowl, make marinade by whisking together mustard, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper, and orange zest, then slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.
Alternately thread chicken, zucchini, mushrooms, and peach wedges onto skewers. Be sure to leave enough space at bottom of skewer to hold and turn.
Place skewers in single layer on sheet pan or baking dish, and pour marinade over the top, turning skewers to distribute marinade. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and marinate in refrigerator, turning skewers occasionally, for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Heat grill to high. Place skewers on grill and cook, turning often, for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Note: If using wooden skewers, place in water and soak for at least 1 hour.
Yields approximately 1 cup.
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh blueberries
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 green onions, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
Dash of hot sauce, optional
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Salsa will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Strawberry shortcakes with herbs and whipped cream
Yields 6 to 8 servings.
About 5 sprigs lemon balm or orange mint, optional
1 pint whipping cream
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
To make topping: Bruise herb sprigs and place in medium bowl with whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove and discard herb sprigs. Add sugar to whipping cream, and beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
1 quart strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons grenadine syrup
Handful of sweet woodruff sprigs, optional
To make berry filling: In large bowl, toss berries with grenadine and woodruff, and stir to mix. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to a few hours.
2 cups unbleached white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped orange mint or lemon balm, optional
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
To make shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter baking sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.
In food processor or large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut butter into mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add half-and-half, and mix until just blended.
Add chopped herbs, and mix until just blended. Do not overmix.
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat dough to about 3/4-inch thick. Using 3-inch cutter, cut out rounds, and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake in center of oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for at least 5 minutes.
Split shortcakes in half. Place spoonful of berries and juice on bottom half, and add dollop of whipped cream. Cover with top half. Serve immediately.
Note: If desired, repeat with fruit and cream, and garnish with a berry slice.
Yields 6 to 8 servings.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 cups blackberries, washed and drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch plus 1/4teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup milk
Cream or ice cream, optional
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In large saucepan, blend 1/2 cup sugar with cornstarch; add blackberries, butter, and pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.
Remove from heat, and stir in lemon zest and juice. Spread mixture in bottom of an ungreased 8-by-8-inch baking pan; set aside.
In medium bowl, combine flour with remaining sugar, baking powder, and remaining salt. With fork, cut in chilled butter until coarse crumbs form. Add milk, and mix to make a soft dough.
Drop dough by spoonfuls over fruit mixture in pan.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve plain, or topped with cream or ice cream, if desired.
Excerpted from Grit. To read more articles from Grit, please visit “http://www.grit.com”>www.grit.com, or call 800-803-7096. Copyright 2019 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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