Summer is here, the weather in New York is hot, sticky and smelly, and - far more delightfully - strawberries abound at the Greenmarket!
This past Saturday morning, my friend Faith lured me out of my apartment and to Union Square by telling me it was still only about 65 degrees out. The second I walked outside I knew she'd been lying, but the sight of all those gorgeous berries completely made up for it. Booth after booth featured perfectly-ripened, sweet-smelling Jersey strawberries, all at the pretty reasonable price of about $5 per quart.
When you live alone, it can be tough to make it through a big pile of berries before they go bad. That's why you should arm yourself with a myriad of recipes - sweet and savory - before you go forth and indulge the passion for strawberries that lurks within us all. Cook some into a sauce, make a compote with some more, and enjoy the rest with a glass of champagne. Or two.
Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote
This is fantastic served shortcake-style (over a biscuit with some whipped cream), spooned over vanilla ice cream, or on top of plain Greek yogurt.
3-4 stalks rhubarb, leaves trimmed, strings removed, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on taste)
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced length-wise into 1/4 inch pieces
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, cook the rhubarb down till just softened, but still holding its shape. Stir in the sugar and heat till it dissolves in the rhubarb's juice, then stir in the strawberries.
Cook just until bubbling, then remove from heat. Once the mixture has cooled somewhat, spoon into a clean mason jar and refrigerate until you're ready to eat! It should last about two or three weeks in the fridge.
You can also eat it warm, if you so desire.
Makes approximately 3/4 quart of compote.
Strawberry Sauce with Bacon and Ramps
This sauce is great with roasted and grilled meats, particularly chicken and pork.
1/4 lb. slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch batons
1 tbs. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
3-4 pickled ramps, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces*
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste
Minced chives, to garnish
In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until most of the fat has been rendered out and the pieces are crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the olive oil to the pan and cook the shallot over medium heat until transparent and fragrant. Add the mustard and mix well with the shallots. Cook for a minute or so more.
Add the pickled ramps to the pan and cook until slightly softened. Add the strawberries and a tablespoon of water to the pan. Cook until the strawberries are warm through and the sauce has thickened slightly, then stir in the reserved bacon. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving the sauce on top of the roasted meat or fish of your choosing.
*If you can't find pickled ramps and didn't put any up yourself this year, try substituting spring onions or scallions, supplemented with a pinch each of sugar and white wine vinegar.