Marisa Renwald: Strawberry season has early arrival
Marisa Renwald May 25, 2012 3:48PM
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:37AM
They’ve arrived. And they’re quite early, in fact. So early that you might miss them if you wait until their regular season peaks.
These speedy strawberries push the start of summertime forward a good two weeks. That means we can enjoy several days in May slurping up the tiny Indiana rubies with spoonfuls of cream, crushing them into fresh preserves, or churning them into homemade ice cream.
If there are any left (which there rarely are), they make excellent shortcake toppers.
But summer’s first fruit doesn’t have to be turned into one of its iconic snacks. While sweet may be safe and familiar, savory takes this uncharacteristic taste to the wild side.
It’s hard to picture the dainty, sweet berry paired with anything other than sugar or cream. But really, we’ve been doing it for quite some time — just very inconspicuously.
Strawberry and black pepper. Strawberry and balsamic vinegar. Strawberry and fine Italian cheese. Strawberry and rhubarb? They can all step aside.
The best savory strawberry recipes combine these tastes into something uniform and harmonious that not only creates a fresh new flavor for the berry, but also refuses to overwhelm it with the other myriad of tastes.
And that’s exactly what a strawberry caprese salad does. The beloved tomato-basil-mozzarella combination seems nearly perfect as it is, but the substitute of strawberries for tomatoes is a nice changeup during strawberry season. Those ultra-sweet local strawberries add a bit of a different depth to the normally mild and acidic flavor the tomato brings.
It’s new. It’s summery. And somehow, it’s still a caprese salad. Even though the tomatoes have been replaced, the strawberries take over and complement the basil and mozzarella in a beautiful way.
Serve it by itself — a scoop of it is delicious as a tiny aperitivo before a meal from the grill. Or, even better — serve it atop a slice of crusty French bread as an Americanized bruschetta.
Strawberry season has already surprised us with its early arrival. You may already have your favorite strawberry vices, but why not switch gears with this group of berries and serve up a nice savory surprise instead?
4 cups halved fresh strawberries
1 8-ounce tub fresh mozzarella pearls
1 nectarine or peach, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 French bread baguette, sliced and toasted
Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and shallot. Set aside.
Combine strawberries, nectarine, and mozzarella pearls in a medium bowl. Pour vinaigrette over berry mixture and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on top of French bread slices or alone.
Source: Adapted from Strawberry Caprese Salad, Southern Living,