Spring means a lot of things, and one of the better aspects is the increasing availability of fresh berries.
Here are a few ways to use these nutritional powerhouses.
Mixed Berry Salad
This salad showcases the best of spring — baby greens and seasonal berries in a colorful, healthy bowl. If you are serving a dairy meal, a briny cheese like feta or ricotta salata crumbled over the top is divine, ditto a creamy chevre.
For the salad:
1 package baby lettuce (spring mix, arugula or spinach)
1 cup mixed berries, rinsed and picked over (I used blackberry and raspberry, but any variety is fine.)
½ cup salted pistachios (or your favorite nut)
For the dressing:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey (or more if you prefer a sweeter dressing)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
A generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
In a large salad bowl, place the lettuce, berries and nuts.
In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until they are blended well.
Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.
This elixir has become my go-to dessert sauce this season. It is far simpler than caramel sauce, far healthier than chocolate sauce and its fresh, seasonal flavor and bright color are happy-making.
Try it on ice cream or sorbet, or drizzled on pound cake.
Pour it on pancakes in the morning, or crepes for a dramatic dessert. It’s a great addition to smoothies.
This would be great with raspberries, blackberries or blueberries — or a mixture. It keeps in the fridge for several days, or can be frozen for several months.
1 pint fresh, ripe strawberries, rinsed and stemmed
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar, if needed (sometimes the berries are a tad tart)
Place the strawberries and lime juice in a blender and puree. If the ingredients are reluctant to blend, add a few teaspoons of water.
Taste the sauce; if it needs sugar, add a teaspoon or two. Blend again.
These cream scones are deliciously rich but also possess a divine lightness. Try them for breakfast, or as a decadent snack with a cup of tea. A blend of cake and all-purpose flour produces a lighter scone, but using only all-purpose flour will work fine; the result will just be a bit denser.
Most scone recipes require rolling and cutting the dough; I loathe that process, so I use this method of “dropped scones.” It’s like making cookies, where you scoop a hunk of dough and drop it on a baking sheet — they are less perfect in appearance, but you save time and hassle and mess. In my book, this is the way to go.
2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar, plus ¼ cup for sprinkling on scones
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream, plus ¼ cup for brushing on scones
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained well
Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the flours, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in the egg, cream and vanilla until just blended.
Drop rounds of the dough, approximately ¼ cup each, on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
With a pastry brush, slather scones with remaining cream, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake until done, about 15 minutes. The scones will be just starting to brown at the edges. They are best served warm out of the oven with butter, jam or clotted cream.
Makes 12 large or 18 small scones