It’s spring here in Texas, weather-wise if not quite calendar-wise yet. With all this beautiful weather comes a flood of fresh produce that no longer requires considering a second mortgage, unlike that sad-looking, coffee stirrer-thin asparagus for $5/lb that was out barely a month ago.
Strawberries are abundant, wonderful, and on sale everywhere right now. But since some of my favorite strawberry recipes involve flour and sugar – two things that I’m trying to avoid right now – we decided to try to be a little more creative and focus on more on non-baked-good alternatives.
Enter Strawberry-Avocado Salsa, stage right.
The salsa is simply a tomato-less twist on pico de gallo… with strawberries. And avocado. And orange and lemon juices in place of lime. But other than that, you know, it’s exactly the same kind of wonderful that goes great with fish and chicken and chips and tortillas.
We whipped up a batch for a tortilla- and chip-less (but not margarita-less!) taco night on the patio – and it was pretty perfect. There’s a lot going on with the salsa: heat from the pepper, the sweetness from the strawberries, the richness of the avocado, and the acidity from the citrus. And all that goes on top of smokey, grilled salmon filet.
A white fish would work pretty perfectly, too. And so would chicken. A tortilla might make it even better… as would a side of tortilla chips to handle the leftover salsa.
Grilled Salmon with Strawberry Avocado Salsa
Smokey grilled fish topped with a sweet-meets-heat salsa of strawberries and avocado.
For the marinade:
Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil (plus extra for oiling grill grates)
4 salmon filets (~6 oz each)
For the salsa:
1/2 pint of strawberries, hulled and diced
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded (or not) and diced
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
Heat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill grates to prevent the fish from sticking.
In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients and then transfer to a shallow dish.
Place the fish skin-side up in the marinade and let sit for 10 minutes. (If you're using a skinless fish flip after 5 minutes; if using chicken, try to let it marinate for as long as possible.)
Transfer the fish to the grill, skin-side down and cook for ~10-12 minutes, until the thickest part of the fish is opaque.
While the fish is cooking, stir together the ingredients for the salsa in a medium bowl.
Serve the fish, seasoned with additional salt & pepper, topped with a generous scoop of salsa.
I absolutely adore the strawberry + goat cheese combination. Sweet, juicy, in-season strawberries meet a creamy, tangy goat cheese. It’s a combination that knows no limits: appetizers, sandwiches, and even dessert.
Toss those strawberries with a good balsamic vinegar and peppery arugula, and pile it on some crusty French bread?
There’s a perfect balance, a combination of sweet and savory flavors, in each bite. Call it heavenly, call it perfection, or just call it lunch. But do set aside some of your strawberries this season to make a sandwich.
Strawberry Panini with Arugula and Goat Cheese
Lunch goes meatless with the sweet-savory combination of strawberries, balsamic, arugula, and goat cheese.
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Handful of arugula
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper
Goat cheese, at room temp
Loaf of crusty bread
Preheat a grill pan or panini maker.
Place strawberries in a bowl, lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and toss.
Split the loaf of bread in half and spread both sides with desired amount of goat cheese.
Top with strawberries, a pinch of salt, a couple grinds of black pepper, and a handful of arugula.
Top with the other half of the loaf and grill until golden brown and the goat cheese melts.
I absolutely fell in love with the idea of roasting strawberries with basil long before I even took the first bite. Because after 30 minutes in the oven, my kitchen smelled amazing.
My mother-in-law once served us cheesecake drizzled with basil syrup for dessert. Back then, the idea of basil going anywhere near something that wasn’t tomatoes and mozzarella was completely a foreign concept to me. And that, of course, meant that I was first in line to snag a slice. But it really works perfectly with strawberries, and much better than mint, if you ask me.
Cooking the strawberries concentrates the flavors and softens the berries, leaving them with a texture similar to thawed, frozen berries but a taste 1000 times better. Cooking them with basil and pairing them with tangy goat cheese on a crispy slice of toast?
The basil and goat cheese cut the sweetness of the berries, lending it a more savory bite. It’s an appetizer perfect for a summer dinner party.
Or a March lunch.
Three days in a row.
Roasted Strawberry Crostini with Basil and Goat Cheese
Basil, goat cheese, and roasted strawberries offer a savory twist to this strawberry appetizer.
For the basil syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
5 large basil leaves, torn or cut into several pieces
For the crostini
12 oz strawberries, hulled
Pinch of salt
Small baguette, sliced into 12-16 1/2-inch slices
4 oz goat cheese, softened
Small basil leaves, for garnish
To make the basil syrup, heat water and sugar in a small saucepan until hot and remove from heat.
Add basil leaves and let sit 15 minutes. Discard the leaves.
To roast the strawberries, heat the oven to 300.
Place the strawberries into a small baking pan (I used an 8x8) and pour the basil syrup over top. (I used medium strawberries, if yours are very large, consider cutting them in half).
Roast for ~1 hour, until the berries have softened. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Increase oven to 425.
Drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil and bake 5-7 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and while still warm, spread with goat cheese.
Use a spoon to break up the berries a bit, and then scoop a spoonful onto each crostini.
Drizzle with additional basil-strawberry syrup.
Garnish with small basil leaves and serve.
Leftover basil-strawberry syrup will keep up to a week in the fridge - it's wonderful over yogurt and ice cream.
I try to steal away an hour or so of each weekend to make breakfast ahead of time for most of the upcoming week. Muffins, waffle batter, scones, kolache… something to make our early week rush a little more efficient. Something we can grab with one hand as we’re locking the door and rushing out to preschool/work/running/gymnastics/errands.
But the time Saturday rolls around, we’re totally ready to send the munchkin to the play room while we watch from the other side of the glass with our spicy chicken biscuits and fruit cups. Breakfast of champions