When I was very young, I was entirely preoccupied by the color pink. I wanted all my clothes to be pink, played only with my Strawberry Shortcake doll, and longed for my meals to be exclusively pink. My parents responded to this phase by dyeing my pajamas pink, buying me a pair of inexpensive Strawberry Shortcake sneakers, and serving me a dish of strawberries with nearly every meal.
These days, I’m not nearly so mad for the color pink. In fact, the only vestige of my early obsession is the fact that come strawberry season, I go a little berry crazy. I buy pounds and pounds and make jams, purees, tarts, pies, salads, and dressings.
I have my strawberry celebration down to something of a science these days and have settled on three categories of dishes that I must always make when the strawberries are ripe.
The first is a jam. While I do often make a large batch with many pounds of berries and preserve it for later in the year, I will also frequently cook up smaller batches for immediate use. I cook these little batches in a wide skillet and they take just ten minutes to cook to completion. The nice thing about the smaller batches is that you can flavor one with vanilla bean and the next with lots of lemon zest. I do love having a wide variety of preserves in my fridge!
The second thing I make every year is a quick batch of strawberry-yogurt dressing. It works well on fruit salads or as a creamy topping for slices of angel food cake. I also use it on a salad of baby greens, sliced strawberries and toasted almonds. It makes for a lovely and surprising addition to a potluck table.
Finally, I must make at least one tart or pie when the strawberries are in season. I like making a freeform tart, though if you prefer you could just as easily arrange the crust in a pie plate. I pair the strawberries with a little sugar and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, for a sweet, slightly tangy, buttery tart. This one is good served with lightly whipped cream for dessert, or with some Greek yogurt for breakfast.
Refrigerator Strawberry Jam
- 1 quart strawberries (about 1½ pounds)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- ½ lemon, juiced
Combine chopped strawberries with the sugar and the vanilla bean in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet. Let sit until the sugar begins to pull the liquid out of the berries.
Once strawberries are juicy and the sugar is mostly dissolved, place the pot on the burner and bring to a boil. Cook jam over high heat, stirring constantly, until it takes on a thick, syrup-y consistency. This should take 8 to 12 minutes. Jam is done when you can pull a spatula through it and jam doesn’t immediately rush in to fill that space.
When jam seems nearly done, add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Remove pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the jam into a heatproof container that can hold at least two cups.
Refrigerate and use as you would any other storebought jam.
Strawberry Yogurt Dressing
- 1 pint strawberries (about 3/4 pound)
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until just smooth. Refrigerate and use to dress greens, fruit salads or as a topping for oatmeal.
Strawberry Balsamic Tart
- 1 rustic tart crust (recipe below)
- 2 pounds strawberries, washed and quartered
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
Preheat over to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the strawberries, sugar, flour, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured board or counter. When it’s roughly 12 inches in diameter, use a spatula to loosen the crust from the board. Gently fold it in half and position the lined baking dish next to it. Leaving the crust folded, scoot it so that the fold is somewhere near the middle of the baking sheet. Gently unfold the crust.
Spoon the prepared strawberries into the center of the crust with a slotted spoon, so that you leave the juices behind in the bowl. Once all the strawberries are in place, fold the crust up and around the berries, taking care not to tear the dough. When the crust is in place, pour the reserved juices over the berries.
Whisk the egg together with a tablespoon of water and brush over the edges of the crust. This will give it a glossy finish and help it brown.
Slide the tart into the oven and bake at 400° for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the juices are thickened.
Once time is up, remove tart from oven and let it rest for at least an hour before cutting, so that the juices have a chance to continue to thicken.
Rustic Tart Crust
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup rye or whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup ice water
Combine the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter cubes to the bowl and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flours and largest bits look to be the size of peas.
Then, with the motor running, slowly stream the water into the bowl using the tube. Stop once you’ve added half the water and test the dough by squeezing it. If it sticks together, it’s done. You want it to just barely hold together.
Form dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using. Overnight is fine too. The dough can also be frozen for up to a month.
If you don’t have a food processor, pie dough is still within your grasp. Combine the flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Grate very cold butter using a box grater. When it’s all grated, combine with the flours in the bowl and work together using a pastry blender or your hands. Add water drop by drop until the dough comes together. Store as recommended above.