I’m obsessed with fresh strawberries right now. Sweet to the taste and bright red to the eye, this luscious berry can be tossed into just about anything to turn an ordinary meal into a celebration.
Enjoy this prime strawberry season with me, and head out to a pick-your-own field or farmer’s market. En route, challenge your family to think of all the ways you can use your bountiful baskets of juicy berries. As kids shout out their favorites, such as strawberries and waffles, peanut butter and strawberry-jam sandwiches and strawberry ice-cream cones, you’ll discover how the versatile berries can be worked into any meal of the day.
Back home, learn new ways to use your bounty — like stirring up strawberry-rhubarb jam or strawberry salsa. I like to use strawberries as a garnish; I toss them, along with fresh mint, into a chilled pitcher of water, and I’m always incorporating them in supper salads using other fresh local produce, nuts and cheese.
Here is a simple salad that’s a headliner on our Father’s Day lunch menu. Young kids can prep the berries and peppery arugula while you quickly toast the pecans in a pan on the stove.
STRAWBERRY ARUGULA SALAD
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves*
1/2 cup crumbled mild feta cheese (optional)
- Let school-age kids wash, hull, dry and halve the strawberries. Place in a bowl and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, an adult should toast the pecans in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Shake the pan to avoid overscorching until the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned. Cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Add strawberries, arugula and pecans, and toss. Taste and season as needed.
- Divide mixture on individual plates, and dot with the feta cheese, if you wish. Serves 4.
*Substitute half of the arugula with fresh spinach for a milder flavor.
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© 2022 Donna Erickson
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