By: Katherine Rossmoore
Better Living through Local Foods
Strawberries festivals and celebrations are everywhere these days; they are even growing in my sunny south-facing back yard, along with the beginnings of herbs like basil, chives, oregano, parsley, abundant mint and other plants. The tomato plants, however, are barely just growing the little yellow flowers that eventually turn to fruit. Whenever I think about basil, it is usually paired with fresh garden tomatoes, especially the traditional Genovese basil. So I was thrilled to be reading in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine about a strawberry ginger basil punch. Because I love ginger, and am always promoting its anti-inflammatory properties, I decided to make an alcohol-free, sugar-free version of the punch for a workshop on healthy clean eating I gave last weekend. The results were super, and I have to admit that can’t wait to try it with some vodka, (or rum or tequila) next time!
Once I was on the basil and strawberry trail, I came across the idea for a salad with strawberry basil salad dressing and gave that a whirl as well. Wow! Move over, old favorites like my miso ginger and carrot ginger dressing and ume scallion dressings: my new summer love is this strawberry vinaigrette! (It’s actually not a vinaigrette because it’s made with lemon or lime juice.) If you are fortunate enough to get some high quality balsamic vinegar from Omega oils and vinegars at one of our local farmers markets (I’ve seen her at Marshfield and Plymouth) do get the almost drinkable Batch 8 balsamic just to have that special superior drizzle on this and other upcoming salads.
Strawberry Ginger Basil Punch
adapted from Bon Appétit June 2013
1/3 Cup water
2-3 T agave nectar (about 2 ½ )
3 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1 3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced, divided
½ Cup packed fresh basil
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
About 12 oz. club soda
Optional: Booze of choice? Rum, vodka, tequila or brandy would be options! Vodka is the healthiest choice of alcohol…
Make a syrup with ½ Cup strawberries, half of ginger, 1/3 Cup water, and agave: place all in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool, strain syrup and set aside. (I save the strawberry/ginger mush to put in plain yogurt!)
Muddle (or blend: it’s easier) 2 cups strawberries, the basil and remaining ginger in bowl or blender. Add optional booze, lime juice and syrup, stirring to combine.* Chill at least 30 minutes or several hours to let flavors meld.
Straining liquid into a punch bowl is optional. (I did not, but you may get some seeds in your teeth.) Add club soda and remaining ½ Cup strawberries. Garnish with additional basil if you’d like.
*You can keep it alcohol-free, and then add later individually as well.
Strawberry Basil Salad Dressing*
Adapted from the blog Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/3 cup packed fresh basil
3 Tbs lemon or lime juice (I actually used a combination because I had extra squeezed lime juice from the punch!)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp organic blue agave nectar ( you can use maple syrup or honey as well)
¼ t sea salt, fine grained
¼ t black pepper
OPTIONAL: (but wonderful) 1 Tbs good-quality like Omega balsamic vinegar
In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except the sweetener and salt and pepper until smooth, and then add agave salt and pepper to taste.
Early Summer Salad with Strawberries
Butter lettuce or mixed greens; I actually had baby lettuce my husband is growing in our back yard. Lucky.
About 2 handfuls of slivered almonds, toasted
Fresh sugar-snap peas, cut into large bite-sized pieces
Pea tendrils if you can find them
Fresh strawberries, chopped in half or quartered
Chiffonade of fresh basil
Optional: fresh yellow or orange grape tomatoes: sweet!
Toast your almonds in a preheated 300 degree oven for about 8-9 minutes; you have to watch them because they go from sweet light toast to burned in seconds!
Make your dressing in food processor or blender. Assemble your salad, adding any other favorite greens or fresh produce you feel inspired to use.
The salad ingredients and assembly are purposely loose-goosey because you should use whatever is fresh and local to this time of year. Edibles are growing everywhere! Locavore Heaven!
*Katherine Rossmoore is an integrative health and wellness guide, using her love of clean whole foods and cooking to help people demystify the healthy kitchen. She is also a writer, mother and certified yoga teacher. Find her and more delicious salad dressing recipes at www.betterlivingthroughfoods.com