By Tami Weiser
Berry growing in the US is at its peak in the warmest summer months. The antioxidant value of these small sweet berries is enough to warrant eating them right from the carton (please, please, wash it first, even if it’s organically grown), but for me, the taste is the real seller here. I’ve always loved berries, and now I get to regale in their vast nutritional value happily. Sold at great summer prices, it’s easy to pick up a few extra cartons. Usually, berries are relegated to desserts, smoothies and fruit salads. Here are some interesting recipes to expand beyond simply eating the berries, or dousing them in processed sugars, so you can get the most out of your summer berry cache.
During summer’s hottest and most humid days, keep an eye out for some unusual berry treats. Sometimes, locally grown, small, varietal berries Whole Foods or farmer’s markets or stands, like fresh red and aubergine colored currants, Maine’s teeny wild blueberries, fanciful gooseberries, sweet elderberries, tart huckleberries, and uniquely dark black raspberries, but those are catch-as-catch-can-treat that can be enjoyed in any of these recipes or eaten out of hand.
Breakfast berries usually appear in blenders, prepped to become a smoothie momentarily or plopped on top of yogurt with a spoonful of granola. Those are everyday classics that deserve their place in the pantheon of breakfasts, but if you want to mix it up a bit, grab the slow cooker and add the berries right into your overnight porridge. Try this high- protein quinoa overnight breakfast brimming with berries, with your AM coffee, kombucha or tea.
Have a little time in the am or planning a brunch? Here’s a scrumptious, homemade turkey sausage studded with ripe blueberries. That with or without eggs is truly a protein rich way to start the day. These patties can be made a few days in advance, stored wrapped well in the fridge.Simply reheat in a pan with a touch of oil or on a tray in an oven on parchment paper or oil slicked foil.
Salads and berries belong together. It may not seem like it at first glance, but oh boy, is it true. After all, tomatoes are a fruit not a veggie and we all think of them as part and parcel of salads. ( rightly so). In this recipe black rice and berries are brought together with a sharp dressing, some seasonal sprouts and the magical fresh mint bring it all home.
In this chicken dinner salad winner, blackberry and kiwi come to life in with greens and avocados in a balsamic dressing. I love using the gold and green kiwis, just so the colors really pop.
This salad is a meal. Summery, fresh and fruity it’s the poppy seed dressing that makes this taste so darn good. If you don’t have chicken handy this salad is great with salmon, too.
Sure there are endless variations on crumbles, cobblers, grunts, brown betties, muffins, pancakes, upside down tarts and galettes that are gorgeous, but fresh berries sometimes, need very little zhuzhing to be an exciting dessert. I opt for fresh leafy herbs often ( think: basil, tarragon, or mint). This recipe is all about the basil ( albeit with fromage blanc – you can sub greek yogurt but it’s even tangier.)
This recipe, fresh mint livens up this all-berry all-the-time-berry salad, and showcases what just a few fresh ingredients can do.
Egg whites whipped and baked are a fancy backdrop for mounds of lovely berries. Low fat, gluten free and dairy free, pavlovas are a lovely way to serve berries to a crowd.
This vegan Pavlova version, showcases the range of meringues made with aquafaba ( garbanzo cooking liquid, usually from a can), which was quite the rage a few years back,and it is so tasty. If you can’t or don’t want eggs, this remains a terrific option.I do taste a hint of chickpeas, but I rather like it as a savory-ish backnote for the fruit.
Perhaps my most radical suggestion, coming in at #10 is a berry sauce to serve with meats. It’s great with pork and chicken, the usual suspects, amazing on fruit-loving duck but it’s actually best of all on a steak. Who knew? Well, now you do.