Crave: Make the most of fresh fruit

photo by: Courtesy of Mother Earth News

Strawberry Spinach Salad

As delicious as fresh fruit is all on its own, it’s also great to incorporate into your cook-ing and baking. Here are a few fruity recipes to welcome warmer days.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Yields 6 servings.



1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar

1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon poppy seeds


10 cups loosely packed fresh spinach

1 1⁄2 cups sliced strawber-ries, divided

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1⁄3 cup thinly sliced red onion


In medium bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until blended. Set aside.

Wash spinach and dry well. Trim off thick stems. Tear larger leaves into smaller pieces, mak-ing sure leaves are manageable with fork. Place in large bowl.

Toss 1 cup berries, mushrooms and onions with spinach. Just prior to serving, toss salad with 1⁄3 cup dressing (reserving the rest for another time) and arrange remaining strawberries on top.

Note: The spinach can be prepared several hours ahead of time if dried well and kept in the refrigerator. Prepare the strawberries no earlier than 1 hour before serving so they don’t become mushy.

Grilled Chicken and Peach Kebabs

Yields 4 servings.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1⁄4 cup coarse, grainy mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon orange zest

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 small zucchini, cut into 1⁄2-inch rounds

16 cremini mushrooms

3 ripe peaches, cut into 8 wedges each

8 wooden or metal skewers


Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces; set aside.

In small bowl, make marinade by whisking together mustard, vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper and orange zest, then slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.

Alternately thread chicken, zucchini, mushrooms, and peach wedges onto skewers. Be sure to leave enough space at bottom of skewer to hold and turn.

Place skewers in single layer on sheet pan or baking dish and pour marinade over the top, turning skewers to distribute marinade. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and marinate in refrigerator, turning skewers occasionally, for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Heat grill to high. Place skewers on grill and cook, turning often, for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Note: If using wooden skewers, place in water and soak for at least 1 hour.

Strawberry Shortcakes With Whipped Cream

Yields 6 to 8 servings.



About 5 sprigs lemon balm or orange mint, optional

1 pint whipping cream

1 heaping tablespoon sugar

Berry filling:

1 quart strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

2 to 3 tablespoons grenadine syrup

Handful of sweet woodruff sprigs, optional


2 cups white flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Scant 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

2 tablespoons finely chopped orange mint or lemon balm, optional

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


To make topping, bruise herb sprigs and place in medium bowl with whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herb sprigs. Add sugar to whipping cream, and beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.

To make berry filling, in large bowl, toss berries with grenadine and woodruff and stir to mix. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, or up to a few hours.

To make shortcakes, preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly butter baking sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In food processor or large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut butter into mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add half-and-half and chopped herbs and mix until just blended.

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat dough to about 3⁄4 inch thick. Using 3-inch cutter, cut out rounds and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake in center of oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for at least 5 minutes.

Split shortcakes in half. Place spoonful of berries and juice on bottom half, and add dollop of whipped cream. Cover with top half.


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