We’re getting a preview of summer weather this week, a bit warmer and a bit more humid. We may have only one more weekend or two (hopefully three) for fresh, local strawberries. In anticipation of Cinco de Mayo celebrations this weekend, I’m sharing a couple of my favorite strawberry dishes that incorporate a Latin twist. You’re likely to find strawberries available at your local farmers’ markets this week. So pick up a pint or two and create something tasty with spring’s favorite berries.
First, the quintessential strawberry shortcake gets a grown-up make over with dark rum macerated strawberries and shortcake biscuits flavored with anise, as found in “The New Southern-Latino Table” cookbook (page 223) by Sandra Gutierrez. I was intrigued by the incorporation of anise seed and extract in the shortcake and found the flavor appealing, not at all overwhelmingly licorice tinged (if you’re not a fan of licorice). If you have the cookbook, try this recipe (and I’d suggest leaving the rum out if serving to kids).
Strawberries lend themselves well to salsa and pair nicely with a salty, crunchy tortilla chip. I like this salsa recipe from the North Carolina Strawberry Association. I’ve prepared the recipe using finely chopped shallot in lieu of green onion, for a milder flavor, and cilantro easily substitutes for fresh parsley, as desired.
Finally, what’s a celebration without a refreshing beverage? My favorite strawberry margarita is made with strawberry agua fresca, silver tequilla, and Cointreau. Garnish with lime, or a spring of mint if you prefer.
To make the strawberry agua fresca, hull and roughly chop one pound of strawberries. Place the strawberries in a blender with two cups of cold water and puree until liquid. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth, separating the liquid from the pulp and seeds. Pour the strained liquid in a pitcher with two additional cups of cold water and two tablespoons fresh lime juice. Sweeten to taste. Serve the agua fresca “straight up” over ice in a tall glass, or mix in some sparkling water or club soda if desired.
To make a single Strawberry Margarita combine 3 oz. strawberry agua fresca, 1.5 oz. silver tequila, and .5 oz. Cointreau in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of lime. For a party, you could easily mix a pitcher-size batch to share with guests.
Gather ye strawberries while ye may. And enjoy!