Stawberry Bonanza Extravaganza

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phil and i went strawberry picking today at Littlewood Farm in Plainfield, Vermont.  Littlewood is a sweet little organic vegetable and strawberry farm in the Winooski River Valley. It’s about 10 miles from our house, but today was the first time i had ever been there. PYO strawberries is in fullswing at the farm–$4/lb.

the rain had been threatening all morning but phil’s weather radar said it would hold off til noon.  the minute we got to the patch, it started raining. we however came prepared–raincoats and boots!

every time i pick berries,i am reminded of why they are so expensive at the grocery.  hand-picking delicate little pieces of fruit, slumped over, digging around for the most aesthetically pleasing. lucky for me, i didn’t care what my berries looked like–just that they tasted ripe and sweet!

in about an hour we had a heaping tray full of perfect-for-us berries. Nearly 9 pounds!

and then began the task of deciding what to do with them. shortcake, bread, tarts, smoothies, cupcakes, jam, ice cream, cheesecake, daiquiris, chocolate covered strawberries—can you say predicable?   every website has a scrolling carousel with the same strawberry recipes–recipes that most of us have tried and loved, but tried a million times. i really wanted something new, different.  not that strawberries aren’t perfect as is, right off the stem…but i was ready for an experiment.

in all my searching i only found two recipes that caught my attention:

1. Wheat Berries with Strawberries and Goat Cheese: not much of an experiment, but i do love wheat berries and it was the first savory dish i found. Below is my adaptation of the recipe by giada de laurentiis. this recipe will definitely serves 4-6 people, easily.

2 cups soft white wheat berries, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup oj
juice and zest of one lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, packed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 medium strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see note)

For the wheat berries: In a large pan, combine the wheat berries, chicken broth, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook until the wheat berries are tender, 60 to 70 minutes. Drain the wheat berries in a colander (the berries will not absorb all the liquid) and set aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a salad bowl.

For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange and lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, honey, mint leaves, salt, and pepper until smooth. Pour the dressing over the wheat berries and add the strawberries, goat cheese, and walnuts. Toss until all the ingredients are coated.

Note: To toast the walnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

i forgot to mention, that before all this cooking started we did breakdown and make strawberry mint margaritas! Tequila, strawberries, ice, mint, lime–and blend.

2. Strawberry Jalapeno Poppers: the clear standout, from the California Strawberry Festival, Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest.  The following an adaptation from Berry Blast Recipe Contest finalist Allan Oerlemans of Ventura, CA.

wanton wrappers
cream cheese
fresh strawberries
Oil for frying

Remove tops from jalapenos, slice long way. Remove the stem and chop strawberries. Spread small amount of cream cheese on wanton paper. Place jalapeno slice across wrapper. Spoon heaping teaspoon of strawberries on top of cheese and jalapeno.

Fold sides of the wrapper in, then roll.

Use a small amount of water to help hold the wrapper closed.

Fry in oil until golden brown.

Remove from oil onto a bed of paper towels. eat them hot–so tasty. the recipe suggests serving these treats with strawberry jam. i ate them plain. might try them with a salsa fresca next time, but i really like that they aren’t super sweet.  I love the bite of the jalapeno…so good!


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