I just can’t walk away from a table full of summer strawberries. On my way to summer camp pick-up, I stopped in the small town at the base of the foothills for an iced coffee and a few minutes of catch-up on the computer. Next door, a tiny farmer’s market was setting up for the afternoon. As I hurried back to the car, I spied out of the corner of my eye, crimson red strawberries and an adorable grandmotherly looking woman sitting with her daughter, sorting and inspecting each berry before it went into a container.
Now that’s what I call quality control.
The berries were organic and certainly not the cheapest ones I had seen at the farmer’s market this summer but with three generations of the same family serving me in that little booth, I just had to buy some. They were truly the sweetest berries I’ve tasted all season, maybe ever. And no, I did not take any pictures, I just enjoyed the brief moment and then drove up the hill for pickup after carefully placing the 3-pack in the back of my car.
Thanks to the California Strawberry Commission, I was able to learn a lot more about strawberries and strawberry farming last fall at a special event at Cotogna restaurant in San Francisco. Not only did Tom Jones of Providence Farms, a strawberry farmer of 28 years speak, but also Cheryl Sternman Rule, who wrote the book RIPE: A Fresh Colorful Approach to Fruit and Vegetables, spoke about her enlightening experience visiting a local farm, and David Grotto, a nutritionist and public speaker spoke about the health benefits of strawberries.
Cotogna prepared us an all-strawberry feast that included a knock-out Campari cocktail, mind-blowing strawberry pizza, soul-satisfying strawberry soup, and several other interesting offerings, all of which stretched our imaginations about when and how you can use strawberries in your cooking.
But for me and my crazy schedule, I often turn to the simplest of recipes, especially when the strawberries are at their peak of flavor. This strawberry salsa fits that description. You need only three ingredients, can prepare it ahead and use it either as an appetizer or a simple dessert topping. Ok - there are blueberries in this version, making it FOUR ingredients, but that was to make it perfectly patriotic for the 4th of July!
Head over to this lovely post on yumivore.com for some more dessert ideas with strawberries and ricotta.
Be sure to visit your favorite farmer’s market this weekend and enjoy the fresh berries while they are at their very best.
What's your favorite way to serve or eat strawberries?
Strawberry Salsa with Fresh Basil and Balsamic
- 16 oz package of fresh strawberries cleaned, chopped into ¼ dice
- ¼ cup roughly chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar approx
- pinch of salt and pepper if you like
- Combine strawberries, basil, and balsamic and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Let sit for an hour or more before serving with goat cheese and crackers as an appetizer.
- Add some mint (or even substitute it entirely for the basil) and serve this on ricotta soprafina cheese or vanilla ice cream for a simple and fun dessert.