The Season for Strawberries

Posted by Mei Ying Teh on

  

Fresh takes on an old favourite

 

As March comes in and little punnets of these plump berries start popping up more often in groceries, no one can refuse these gleaming fruits in its full glory. Every bite is juicy, with its floral sweetness balanced by a refreshing tartness—even as one eats it in the tropics, the strawberry seems to hold the very flavour of spring. As with all beautifully seasonal food, one must grab hold of them at their fleeting peak and use them in the kitchen as much as possible. When they are in abundance, we might as well take advantage of the strawberry’s ethereal taste through new dishes that will bring fun and an element of surprise for this season.

 

Opposites attract

 

The pairing of strawberries with sweets are already a given for the most part, but playing up to its delicate acidity opens up possibilities about salty or sweet combinations. The idea is to find other key ingredients that share some of the berry’s fruity and tart profiles.

 

Enter balsamic vinegar. Aged from grape wine must, this voluptuously thick vinegar has developed a complex, musky flavour and yet retains a robust fruitiness that makes it so delicious on its own. But paired with strawberries, it’s a Harold & Maude moment—the meeting of unlikely soulmates.

 

Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette[1]

 

1 cup strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

 1/4 cup Borges Balsamic Vinegar

 1/4 cup Borges Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 1 tablespoon honey

 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

 1 tablespoon shallot or red onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Instructions: In a blender, place all of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Keep chilled and use within two days.

 

How to serve: For a fresh salad that simply speaks of springtime, use a mix of salad greens (e.g. lettuce, baby arugula, spinach), a sprinkling of chopped parsley, mint, or dill, a cup of chopped strawberries, a handful of walnuts, and about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese. Pour a liberal amount of the vinaigrette before tossing everything gently together.

 

 

Bringing more vibrance to your plate and to your palate, a sharp salsa adds visual interest and a playful punch to any protein. While this usually calls for tomatoes, changing it up with a medley of mangoes and strawberries can offer a tantalizing counterpoint to grilled or pan-seared fish, shrimp, and chicken. Add in a few chilies to act as a foil to the salsa’s sweet and sour harmony.

 

 

Spicy Strawberry-Mango Salsa[2]

1 cup strawberries, washed and diced

1 cup ripe mango, diced

1/2 green chili, seeded and minced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 teaspoon honey, or more to taste

1 tablespoon Borges Apple Cider Vinegar

Salt, to taste

 

Instructions: In a bowl, combine the chopped strawberries, mango, onion, chili and cilantro with a light toss. Separately, whisk together the honey, salt, and apple cider vinegar until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salsa and chill before serving.

 

How to serve: Serve the salsa alongside cooked fish, chicken, or shrimps. Optionally, plate this with soft flour tortillas as deliciously light tacos, or with chips as an alternative to dips.

 

 

When one thinks of the delicacy of these ruby berries, accompanying this with stodgy, earthy flavours might not be instinctive. But ask anyone who grew up with PB & Jelly sandwiches, peanut butter hardly clashes with fruits—instead, it adds some richness and subtle saltiness that offers something a little different with every bite. Our take on this odd couple transforms this idea into a smoothie that can satisfy children and grown-ups alike.

 

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Smoothie[3]

 

1 medium-sized banana, chopped

½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

½ cup Borges Natura Almond Nut Drink

½ cup ice cubes

Strawberry slices for garnish

 

Instructions: Whiz together all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender until the consistency is thick and smooth. Serve immediately with a few slices of fresh strawberry to garnish.

 

 

 

Mellow sweetness

 

And yet for all our experimentation pairing these berries with other items from odd points on the flavour spectrum, the easiest way to bring out the best of strawberries are through sweets and desserts. But while we would gladly dive into a fluffy cloud of strawberries and cream, too much sweetness can be overkill and would only serve to diminish the natural beauty of the fruit.

 

For these recipes, skip the saccharine route and opt for creative ways to make these strawberry treats that are never overwhelming, and are ever-so dreamy.

 

Rose and Strawberry Tapioca Pudding[4]

2 cups Borges Natura Hazelnut Drink

1/3 cup small tapioca pearls

1 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 cups strawberries, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon rosewater

 

Instructions: In a medium-sized pot, bring the 2 cups of Borges Natura drink to a boil and whisk in the tapioca pearls and 4 tbsp. of sugar with a pinch of salt. Simmer on low heat until the tapioca is fully cooked, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let the pudding cool before dividing into six serving cups.

 

Meanwhile, puree the strawberries with the remaining 2 tbsp. of sugar, and the rosewater. Ladle over the tapioca and chill thoroughly before serving.

 

 

Strawberry & Pistachio Cake[5]

1 cup Borges Olive Oil, plus extra for the cake pan

1 ½ cups shelled pistachios

1 cup caster sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup fine cornmeal or polenta

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup strawberries, chopped, plus extra to serve

Icing sugar and lightly sweetened yogurt, to serve

 

Put the 1 cup of the shelled pistachios in a blender or food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Set aside and preheat your oven to 180 C.

 

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy before slowly pouring in the olive oil. Whisk again until the mixture is uniform. Sift the polenta and baking powder over the wet ingredients and fold gently to combine, being careful to not deflate the mixture. Fold in the chopped strawberries.

 

Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, and then grease the surface with olive oil. Gently tip the cake batter into the tin. Sprinkle the remaining pistachios over the cake and bake for 50-55 minutes until it is golden. Test the cake by inserting a toothpick in the middle; the cake is done if no wet crumbs are clinging to the toothpick.

 

Cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar and sliced fresh strawberries.

 

There are already developments about homegrown strawberries from hydroponic farms that will increase the availability of strawberries year-round, much to the delight of its fans.[6] That said, there’s something special about eating fruit that belongs to a specific period. The flavour and aromas are at its best, but it’s not only that. One taste brings back a memory of the same season, but now far-off and redolent with nostalgia. We will miss it for the rest of the year, but the experience of having it back makes the wait worth it.

  

 

[1] Adapted from https://houseofnasheats.com/spring-salad-with-strawberry-balsamic-vinaigrette/

[2] Adapted from https://damndelicious.net/2013/08/12/strawberry-avocado-pico-de-gallo/

[3] Adapted from https://www.kitchentreaty.com/pbj-smoothie/

[4] Adapted from https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/fruit-on-the-bottom-tapioca-pudding-354132

[5] Adapted from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/strawberry-pistachio-olive-oil-cake

[6] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/locally-grown-strawberries-first-singapore-farming-industry-10452066

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