In season: Strawberry salads forever

The timing is perfect. Our local berries are here just when we need them most – for all the June celebrations – graduations, weddings, birthdays and of course, the big birthday – Canada Day, July 1st! Make the most of their unique sweet taste and slurpy qualities. They are favourites with everyone. Although strawberries are perfect for dessert just by themselves, or in cakes, pies and tarts, you will find them a scrumptious addition to main courses too as these recipes from Foodland will testify.

Strawberries are a fragile fruit; here are some tips to maintain their maximum quality:

  • Once you get them home, sort through them and discard any damaged fruit. Refrigerate berries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towel.
  • Do not wash until just before using them. Rinse them gently with cold running water and pat dry with a T towel
  • Use within 2 or 3 days.
  • For longer storage freeze; wash them as described above and remove hulls. Arrange berries in a single layer on parchment lined baking sheets and freeze until firm. (This takes several hours.) Using freezer bags, pack berries in usable amounts, usually 2 to 4 cups (.5 – 1 L) and freeze for up to a year.

Strawberry Lentil and Couscous Salad

With all the colours of the rainbow, this main course salad only needs some tasty bread for a yummy meal.

Maple Syrup Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup (75 mL) white balsamic or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup (50 ml) olive oil

2 tbsp (25 mL) pure maple syrup (choose dark for a richer flavour)

1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper

Salad:

1/2 cup (125 mL) Israeli or pearl couscous

1 can (19 oz / 540 mL) lentils, drained and rinsed

1 English cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise and thinly sliced into 1/2 moons

1 cup (250 mL) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 yellow pepper cut into strips

1/4 red onion thinly sliced

1/3 cup (75 ml) basil leaves, sliced

2 cups (500 mL) baby spinach leaves

2 cups (500 mL) strawberries, hulled and halved

1/2 cup (125 mL) feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Salad: Cook couscous according to package directions. Cover and set aside.

In large bowl, combine couscous, lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow pepper, onion and basil. Add dressing, stirring gently to combine. Add spinach, strawberries and cheese; toss and serve. Makes 6 – 8 servings.

Barbecued Pork and Strawberry Salad

This main course salad features barbecued pork sliced and combined with a colourful combination of vegetables dressed with a zesty vinaigrette. Serve with whole grain bread for a complete, tasty meal.

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil

3 tbsp (45 mL) white balsamic or white wine vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) honey

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh basil or mint

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

Spice Rub for Pork:

1 tsp (5 mL)    each, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, dried oregano and thyme leaves

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 pork tenderloin, (1 lb/ 500 g)

Salad:

4 cups (1 L) strawberries, hulled and halved

3 1/2 cups (875 mL) romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

1 sweet yellow or orange pepper, cut into strips

1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips

1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil or mint

1/2 cup (125 ml) toasted almonds

Vinaigrette: In large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, 2 tbsp (25 mL) basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Spice Rub: In small bowl, combine paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne and garlic. Rub oil on pork. Rub spice mixture all over tenderloin. Cover and refrigerate.

Pork: Preheat barbecue to medium – high or, if you prefer, preheat oven to 350 (180 C). Place pork on greased grill. Grill covered turning once until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part registers (160 F) 71 C about 12-15 minutes. Alternatively, place pork on rack in baking dish and bake covered with foil 30 – 40 minutes or until internal temperature reached 160 F (71 C). Remove to cutting board; tent with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes. Thinly slice.

Arrange Salad: On individual plates, arrange romaine, salad greens, yellow pepper, carrot, cucumber, onion and basil. Add strawberries and pork. Drizzle dressing over all and sprinkle with almonds. Serves 4.

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