There’s nothing that says spring is nearly here quite like the arrival of the summer strawberry. Sure, you can get strawberries all year round these days and they are good quality products. But here in the UK, there’s something a little special about the arrival of the first strawberries of the summer. It means that the sunshine should be coming and we can start to think about picnics and outdoor parties. So here are a range of recipes and ideas that mix the two.
Summer strawberry benefits
Because they are so tasty and such a bright red shade, it is easy to forget that strawberries are also very good for you in a range of different ways, as are many other berries such as blueberries and cranberries. This is because they have plenty of antioxidants in them as well as vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to remain healthy.
For example, strawberries contain around 150% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C in a single portion. This helps to boost the immune system and lets it fight back everything from summer colds and flu to infections, toxins and other foreign bodies. It is also an antioxidant that helps combat the damage caused by free radicals.
Vitamin C is one of a number of substances in strawberries that have been linked to having anti-carcinogen properties – in other words, fight against cancer. These include folate, anthocyanins and quercetin. These free radicals and others in the little berries have also shown signs of helping combat the ageing process including helping with brain function, arthritis and eye condition. While strawberries aren’t going to cure these problems, they can help the body fight against them.
Strawberry smoothiesWhile just eating strawberries is the easiest way to get the benefits, smoothies are a fun way to get additional benefits, hydration and a great tasting drink. Summer strawberry smoothie ideas include:
Banana strawberry Smoothie
This is always the starting point when trying smoothies – the combination of strawberries and bananas with either a favourite milk, ice cream or yoghurt is simple, takes almost no work and is so tasty. If you want to double the flavour, use some best strawberry ice cream in place of vanilla. You can use cow’s milk or something like soy milk while the yoghurt can be any type you like. You can also add a spoonful of honey to sweeten it further.
Strawberry and Peach Smoothie
For a tropical alternative, take a cup of strawberries and half a cup of peaches with one cup plain yoghurt and half a cup of coconut water. You can blend the mixture and split between two glasses then garnish with a half strawberry each.
Avocado Strawberry Layered Smoothie
This one almost looks too pretty to drink and involves making two separate smoothies and combining them. One is focused around strawberries and the other around avocado – here’s the full recipe.
Summer is definitely the time when salads make a big place on our menu planners and while strawberries definitely fall into the sweet category, they can also be used in these dishes. Summer salads with strawberries are fresh, tasty and easy to make.
Strawberry and Spinach Salad
This recipe uses one bunch of spinach and one cup of sliced strawberries along with half a cup of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and the same of raw pecans. Mix these together in a bowl. Then take 1.4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and ½ cup olive oil. Mix these ingredients, toss with the salad and season with salt and black pepper as preferred.
Quick Fruit Salad
The other type of salad is a fruit salad and this is an easy idea for one to make up early before work or when you have unexpected guests. Take fresh strawberries, green grapes, bananas and an 8-ounce container of yogurt. Prepare the fruit, mix in the yoghurt and you have a quick and tasty fruit salad.
Ask anyone who likes homemade cakes what the best strawberry cake recipe is and they will all have their favourites. For some it is a classic cheesecake decorated with strawberries while others like a nice cake with buttercream icing. I’m a cupcake person and there’s nothing nicer than a strawberry flavoured cupcake with creamy icing and a touch of strawberry flavouring. If you are cooking for adults, you can always use a little strawberry liqueur in place of the flavouring.
Alcoholic strawberry drinksTalking of strawberry liqueur, that other staple of the outdoor party is the cocktail and there are loads of different ways you can incorporate the summer strawberry into them.
Bacardi strawberry daiquiri
You can use any white rum for the daiquiri but there’s no going past that Bacardi is one of the best. For this you need 35ml rum, 1 tbsp. strawberry liqueur, 25ml lime juice, 4 fresh strawberries and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Add them to a cocktail shaker and use a muddler to mix together. Strain through the top of the shaker and garnish with half a strawberry.
Another classic cocktail reborn into a strawberry form is the margarita. To make four glasses of the mixture, take 2 cups of crushed ice, ½ cup of pureed strawberries, 1 cup tequila and the juice of two limes. Add a splash of Triple Sec of Cointreau and the same amount of simple sugar syrup. Blend until smooth and serve.
Strawberry Rose Sangria
Sangria is the perfect help-yourself drink for an outdoor party and this recipe makes use of strawberries and sparkling rose wine. To make it you need:
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 1 bottle sparkling rose wine
- ¼ cup brandy or cognac
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup
- 2 cups sparkling water
Combine the fruit in a pitcher and muddle with a spoon or muddler. Separately add the syrup to the brandy then add this and the wine to the pitcher. Chill for around an hour then add the water as you serve.
For a non-alcoholic cocktail that you can even give to the kids then this recipe is perfect. All you need are four whole strawberries, 2 basil leaves, 2 parts vanilla ice cream and 2 parts cream. Muddle the fruit and basil in a shaker then add the ice cream and cream. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
The arrival of the summer strawberry always inspires me to start finding ways to eat or drink them with smoothies being a first choice. My Ninja Blender cuts through them nicely to make a smooth consistency and they are a great way to getting all the health benefits of these bright red berries. And it always seems impolite not to try a cocktail or two with them!
What’s your favourite summer strawberry recipe? And what do you enjoy eating in the summer that just isn’t the same at other times of the year?