Sweet succulent strawberries are perfect in delicious treats like strawberry shortcake or by themselves dipped in chocolate. But did you know their small bursts of flavor also are perfect for brightening up savory dishes? These versatile berries accentuate salty, nutty and meaty flavors, creating a mouthwatering savory-sweet combination.
They’re also incredibly healthy. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium. Fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free, they’re also high in dietary fiber and manganese. A one-cup serving has only 55 calories, and the berries can help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure.
In season April through June, about 390 acres of strawberries are grown in Virginia, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture in 2017. And while strawberry farms and U-pick operations are scattered throughout the state, most of the iconic berries are grown in Virginia Beach.
Celebrate the sweet strawberry season by using fresh-picked strawberries in one of these savory dishes:
Fruity Fun Chicken Salad Cups
10 ounces canned chicken in water, drained
½ cup spinach, chopped
½ cup strawberries, diced
2½ green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup light sour cream
1⅓ tablespoons yellow mustard
⅔ tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
12 lettuce leaves
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, strawberries and onions.
In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, mustard, oregano and pepper to make the dressing.
Gently fold the dressing into the chicken mixture.
Serve equal amounts of chicken salad over lettuce leaves.
Source: Recipe adapted from Virginia Cooperative Extension
Smoky Ham with Strawberry-Chipotle Sauce
8-pound fully cooked, bone-in ham
⅓ cup agave nectar or honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
⅔ cup sugar
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from chilies)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh sage
Heat oven to 325°.
Line the bottom of a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil.
Score a diamond pattern into the ham, about ⅓-inch deep. Place the ham, flat side down, in the pan. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 140° on a meat thermometer, about 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven, and increase the heat to 400°.
In a small bowl, combine the agave and smoked paprika, and brush the mixture over the ham (not on the flat side). Return the ham to the oven, and bake until glazed, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest 10 minutes.
For the strawberry-chipotle sauce:
In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the strawberries and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries give off their juices, about 3 minutes.
Using a potato masher or a large slotted spoon, crush the strawberries in the saucepan to make a chunky sauce. Stir in the chiles, adobo sauce and lemon juice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage.
Transfer the sauce to a medium bowl placed in a larger bowl of iced water. Let the sauce stand, stirring occasionally, until chilled. In a blender, pulse the sauce until coarsely pureed. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. The sauce can be made up to two days ahead.
Slice the ham and serve with the sauce.
Source: Recipe adapted from the National Pork Board