Monday, May 17, 2010
Strawberries and Spinach--cooking ideas from Nikki
'Tis the season for both strawberries and spinach. Read Nikki's great culinary notes for ideas on how to use both:
I overestimated the amount of strawberries my family would eat this week. These red gems seem to be popping up all over the place lately (and they're not $8/lb. anymore) so I just couldn't resist purchasing a few small vats. ;-)
Thankfully, combined with a bundle of Claire's rhubarb in one recipe and a bag of her spinach in another (and Martha's feta), we managed to finish them off before they got overripe and moldy. Phew.
Below are the two recipes that came to our rescue:
Spinach Strawberry Salad
One bag of Inverbrook spinach, washed and spun dry
A handful or two toasted almonds, chopped or sliced (or even whole, if you like them that way)
About 1/2 pound of strawberries (more if you need to use them up ;-)), tops removed and sliced to whatever thickness you prefer
Highland Farm's Feta, drained and crumbled (I use a whole container as I am crazy over this cheese. Use whatever amount you prefer)
1/4-1/3 C extra virgin olive oil (adjust to taste)
2-3 TBL balsamic vinegar (adjust to taste)
1 tsp natural cane sugar (you can also use maple sugar, agave, or maple syrup here. As always, I encourage you to start with a teaspoon (or less) and adjust accordingly. Remember, I have a sweet tooth. ;-))
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine the balsamic vinegar, sugar, sea salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a small wire whisk or a fork, whisk together, adding the olive oil slowly to the mixture until it is well incorporated and the mixture has thickened. Set aside.
Place the spinach in a large serving bowl.
Add the strawberries and toss gently, by hand.
Drizzle the dressing atop, again, tossing gently, by hand. (No need to use all the dressing is you aren't a fan of a super dressed salad. Any leftover dressing will save beautifully in an airtight container in the fridge.)
Top with the almonds and feta and serve.
Heidi's Rhubarb Crumble
More inspiration from Heidi, and not surprising as Heidi is super in tune and dedicated to using seasonally available, local ingredients.
I changed things up a bit only because I needed to use as many strawberries as possible, I didn't have enough pine nuts, I didn't have spelt flour, and I was short on time.
Here is my make-whatever-you-have-on-hand-work version of Heidi's fabulous Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble:
Butter for greasing the pan
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 C sliced toasted almonds
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (Heidi's recipe called for 1/8 tsp, but I decided not to measure since I was in a hurry and I find it annoying to collect and measure fresh ground pepper. I think I probably used a tad more than 1/8 of a tsp, maybe even twice as much, but this turned out to be an absolutely essential ingredient, in my opinion. The flavor of the pepper played beautifully against the sweet, tart of the berries and rhubarb.)
6 TBL unsalted butter, cold
2 TBL cornstarch
1/2 C natural cane sugar
1 lb. strawberries, topped and cut into quarters (twice as much as Heidi's recipe calls for)
One bunch of Rhubarb from Inverbrook (about 6 long stems), trimmed and sliced into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces
1/4 C port wine (Incidentally, I used the cheapest of port and it turned out great. Heidi listed this ingredient as optional, but, like the pepper, I would suggest not skimping here. It added gorgeous depth to the dish.)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Butter a 10 inch round or 9x9 inch square baking dish.
Combine flour, almonds, oats, 1/2 C sugar, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Add the cold butter bit by little bit, cutting it into the dry ingredients either using a fork, a pastry blender, or your fingers, until you have a course meal. Leave some larger lumps and clumps too. Set aside (put it in the fridge if the kitchen is warm).
Toss the strawberries and the rhubarb together in a large bowl.
Whisk together the cornstarch and the other 1/2 C sugar and add to the fruit, tossing to coat.
Wait a few minutes and then add the port, again, tossing to evenly coat.
Transfer the filling to the buttered baking dish and top with the crumble.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the juice from the fruit is oozing through and bubbling vigorously.
Cool and serve.
Serves 8-10, modestly. (I brought this to share with another family of 5 and we didn't quite have enough. All 7 kids in the crowd were begging for more.)
Azia's snapshots of the strawberries and rhubarb filling and the finished crumble, still in the oven. The flash of the camera brightened the deep brown color of the top of the finished crumble. Look for deeper color.