Strawberries need no adornment. Make that “fresh, ripe strawberries” need no adornment. My favorite way to eat them is when they’re at room temperature and just washed. Grasp the berry’s stem firmly and lean over the sink. Now take a big bite. Perfection – no recipe needed.
But even when it’s prime time for strawberries – and in California, that’s a good long time – not every strawberry can stand alone. Some are picked too soon, others lose their shiny appeal too quickly. But they’re still strawberries, and even if they’re not perfect for shortcake, they can be used creatively.
We’ve collected some recipes of unusual uses for the popular berry. Enjoy them now or anytime during strawberry season.
This unconventional take on the Middle Eastern salad makes perfect sense once you take a bite: The strawberries add sweet-tart freshness. When strawberries are out of season, substitute roasted baby beets.
Make ahead: The tabbouleh can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but it’s best the day it’s made.
Adapted by The Washington Post from “The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon,” by Sara Forte (Ten Speed Press, $25, 256 pages).
3/4 cup medium-coarse bulgur
1 1/2 cups water
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 scallions, white and light-green parts, thinly sliced
2 to 3 baby zucchini (about 8 ounces total), cut into 1/4-inch dice (may substitute small cucumbers)
1/3 cup finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons juice (from 1 large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese (optional)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Rinse and drain the bulgur. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat; add the bulgur, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 25 to 30 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the garlic, fluff with a fork and let cool.
Transfer to a mixing bowl; add the scallions, zucchini, mint, parsley, oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, the salt, pepper and cheese, if using; toss to incorporate. Gently fold in the strawberries.
Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Strawberry avocado tostada
The California Strawberry Commission advises cooks to think of strawberries as substitutes for (!) tomatoes. Maybe not for spaghetti, but that substitution works in this fresh take on the traditional tostada.
2 1/2 cups (about 3/4 pound) fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 pound jicama, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 pound avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Six 6-inch yellow corn tortillas
6 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
6 cilantro sprigs
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together strawberries, jicama, cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice. Add avocados; fold together gently. Season with salt.
Arrange tortillas on oven rack in one layer. Toast about 10 minutes or until crisp and starting to brown.
Mound 1 cup strawberry mixture in center of each tortilla. Sprinkle each tostada with chili powder and 1 tablespoon queso fresco.
Garnish with 1 cilantro sprig and 1 lime wedge; serve immediately.
Grilled salmon with strawberry cucumber salsa
Adapted from recipes by the California Strawberry Commission. For a variation, substitute diced pineapple or mango for all or part of the cucumber.
1 English or seedless cucumber, finely chopped
2/3 cup chopped red onion, shallot or green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced small
6 salmon fillets or fish of your choice, skinless (about 4 to 6 ounces per fillet)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Store in airtight container until ready to use. (Chill if making salsa more than 2 hours before serving.) Use within 24 hours or strawberries will get mushy.
Combine cumin, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Prepare grill. Brush oil mixture over both sides of salmon fillets. Grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Transfer to platter or plates and top with salsa.