BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
VIRGINIA BEACH — Southern Virginia Beach marks the arrival of spring by the ripening strawberries, and locals celebrate the season by hitting the fields with buckets and baskets in hand.
Many pick pounds at a time, scurrying around the field for the best berries in anticipation of the pie or strawberry shortcake that will grace the weekend dinner table.
If you’re like me, you sometimes get a little carried away with the joy of being in a field of ripe strawberries on a mellow May day. You end up with too many berries and have to search for creative things to do with them.
While freezing and jam making are always a possibility, there are other options, including preparing them as side dishes or entrees.
If you’re into dairy, think beyond strawberries and whipped cream to strawberries and goat cheese, which – when combined with greens – makes a fabulous seasonal salad, said Delynda Woods, manager and co-owner of The Whiskey Kitchen, 2149 General Booth Boulevard.
Whiskey Kitchen features a seasonal salad made with local strawberries supplied by Vaughan Farms’ Produce, and their offerings use local produce from a number of local farms. The strawberries are combined with field greens, including arugula, spinach, and a combination of lettuces. The salad also includes red onions, goat cheese and pecans, and it is topped with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
“Who combines strawberries and red onions?” Woods asked. “Nobody does that. Still, people love it.”
Customers started calling before the season began to ask when this salad was going to be available, Woods added.
Sometimes, sweet and savory make a good combination.
Woods said people also love The Whiskey Kitchen’s Pungo-inspired pizza, called by the village’s name on the menu.
It combines strawberries, goat cheese, caramelized onions and grilled chicken on New York pizza dough. The concoction is cooked until the strawberries become almost jelled, and the combination of berries and onions lends a sweet taste to the cheese and chicken.
Of course, strawberries are also a nice addition to fruit salads. I’ve also found that a bowl of strawberries garnished with rose petals makes a big hit at parties.
Strawberries can also be integrated into seafood or meat dishes. For me, a sauce made from strawberries is particularly appealing eaten over rice.
My favorite is a dish that includes strawberries and tofu that I adopted from a recipe for strawberry chicken. I once served it to my daughter, Megan, and her friend, who were visiting from college.
While they reacted enthusiastically, Megan later suggested that I might have gotten a little too strawberry happy by also serving strawberry pie for dessert and strawberry bread for breakfast. For some of us, strawberry season is no time for moderation.
I’m prepared to share a recipe. It’s really very easy to make, and omnivores can substitute chicken or perhaps shrimp for the tofu, adjusting cooking times to ensure the meat or shrimp is cooked through.
Jane’s Strawberry Tofu
► 1 16 ounce package firm tofu, drained
► 1 cup white wine
► 1 pint strawberries, washed, drained, capped and sliced
► Juice of one orange
► 1 sprig chopped fresh mint or lemon balm [optional]
► ½ teaspoon curry powder [optional]
► Dash of grated fresh ginger [optional]
► Pinch of salt [optional]
- Slice or cube the tofu.
- In a frying pan, lightly brown the tofu in vegetable oil.
- Add the curry powder and ginger and stir for half a minute.
- Pour in the wine and orange juice.
- Bring to a low boil, let liquid reduce, then bring to a simmer.
- Add the salt, if desired, and stir well while the mixture simmers.
- Add the strawberries, and stir gently for one minute.
- Tip onto a platter and serve with rice.
- Garnish with fresh mint or lemon balm leaves, as desired.
© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC