Making the most of strawberries, asparagus

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Strawberries and asparagus are fresh at the farmers market and in the supermarket right now, and they are delicious. We have had some enjoyable strawberries from Aldi that are smaller and meaty and taste like old-fashioned berries we had at home growing up. I have included a few strawberry recipes and a couple of asparagus recipes for you to enjoy while the produce is at its peak of freshness.

Easy Strawberry Soup

1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries

1/4 cup vanilla yogurt

1 pint cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend strawberries in blender until smooth. Slowly add vanilla yogurt and keep blending. Pour strawberry mixture into large bowl. Add cream and vanilla and stir until blended. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Before serving garnish with a fresh strawberry or a mint leaf. Serve in soup bowls. Serves 3.

Low-Fat Strawberry Soup

This recipe uses plain (light) yogurt instead of cream. It still tastes yummy but is much lower in fat and calories.

1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries

1 pint plain yogurt, or light yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Blend strawberries in blender until smooth. Slowly add yogurt and keep blending.

Pour strawberry mixture into large bowl. Add orange juice, sugar, cardamom and water and stir until blended. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Before serving garnish with a fresh strawberry or a mint leaf. Serve in soup bowls.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced onion

10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces

1 quart strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

You can serve this salsa as with your grilled meat or sausages. The taste is sweet and sour. The salsa is perfect for barbecues, especially when you're tired of the same ones over and over again.

1 cup pineapple

1 /2 cup mango

1 cup strawberries

1 tablespoon ginger

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons sugar

Dice pineapple and mango. Hull and dice strawberries. Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smoothh. If the mixture is too thick you can add a little bit of water. Add sugar to your liking. The salsa can be kept for up to two days in the fridge and is enough for 8 to 10 people.

Cherry Berries on a Cloud

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

Filling:

2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

2 cups miniature marshmallows

Topping:

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form (do not underbeat). Spread evenly in a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour; turn off oven (do not open door). Let cool in oven overnight or at least 12 hours.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth; gently fold in whipped cream and marshmallows. Spread over meringue. Chill for 4 hours. Cut into 16 pieces. Combine topping ingredients; spoon 1/4 cup over each serving.

Asparagus and Red Pepper with Balsamic Vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 red onion, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (optional)

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the asparagus and red onion in the mixture, season with salt, and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir the red bell pepper into the mixture and continue cooking until the onions begin to caramelize, another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, and pine nuts; toss to combine.

Roasted Asparagus and Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary-Infused Olive Oil

2 tablespoons rosemary, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon iodized sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, heat rosemary in extra-virgin olive oil over medium-low heat until fragrant and sizzling. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain olive oil, reserving rosemary, and toss potatoes in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Transfer potatoes to a roasting pan and roast for 20-30 minutes, until they are slightly browned and yield to a knife but are still resistant. Toss asparagus in remaining olive oil and add to potatoes. Roast for another 8 to 10 minutes (less if asparagus are thin), turning frequently, until potatoes are golden and asparagus are tender. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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