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Celebrate Summer With Strawberries

There’s nothing that says “summer is here” like a sun-warmed strawberry. Strawberries are nature’s most versatile fruit — they’re just as good in a salad as in dessert.

When selecting strawberries, look for berries that are shiny, firm and fragrant. Berries don’t ripen after they are picked, so they should be a rich red color with a bright green leafy cap. The size of the berry doesn’t affect its flavor. Some varieties are naturally white in the center and some may have white shoulders around the cap. Both are perfectly ripe.

Refrigerate berries with the caps on, loosely covered with plastic wrap until ready to use. Discard any moldy berries immediately since mold spreads. Just before serving, rinse the berries with caps still attached under a gentle spray of cool water. For best flavor, allow berries to come to room temperature.

Today’s recipes offer a variety of strawberry favorites: Strawberry Glace´ Pie, Summer’s Finest Salad, Blushing Berries, Strawberry Sensation Cake.

STRAWBERRY GLACE´ PIE

1 qt. fresh strawberries, 1 c. sugar, 3 T. cornstarch, 1 c. water, red food coloring (optional), 1 pie crust shell

Bake and cool pie crust shell. Wash and hull 1 quart strawberries. Cut up 1 cup berries. Mix sugar, corn starch in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in 1 cup water gradually until smooth. Add cut up berries. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and clear. Stir in a few drops of red food coloring. Cool filling completely (to quicken the process, place pan in sink filled with ice water). Stir in remaining berries. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled crust. Garnish with Cool Whip and berries. Serves 6.

strawberry-pie

SUMMER’S FINEST SALAD

1 lb. boneless chicken breast halves, 3 c. spinach, torn, 3 c. romaine, torn, 1 sm. red onion, sliced thin, 2 T. basil, snipped, 3 c. plums, sliced, 2 c. strawberries, sliced

Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on lightly greased rack of uncovered grill. Grill over medium coals for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and no longer pink, turning once. Let chicken stand about 10 minutes. Cut into irregular pieces. In large salad bowl combine spinach, romaine, red onion rings and basil. To serve, divide spinach mixture among four dinner sized shallow wooden bowls or plates. Arrange fruit and chicken on greens. Drizzle Strawberry Dressing on each serving. Serves 4.

Strawberry Dressing: in food processor bowl combine ¾ cup cut up fresh strawberries, 2 T. strawberry pourable fruit, 2 T. olive oil, 4 tsp. sherry vinegar, ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cover and process until smooth. Makes ¾ cup.

BLUSHING STRAWBERRIES

½ c. sugar, 1 enveloped unflavored gelatin, 1-1/3 c. cold water, 3 T. orange juice, ½ c. blush wine, 2 c. strawberries, sliced thin

Sprinkle sugar and gelatin over 2/3 cup water in saucepan; let stand one minute to soften. Stir over low heat to dissolve sugar and gelatin. Pour into large bowl. Add remaining water, wine, and juice. Chill until mixture mounds slightly, about 1 hour. For quick set, place gelatin mixture over bowl of iced water, stir frequently. Fold berries into mixture. Spoon into goblets. Chill until set, about 2 hours. Serves 4.

STRAWBERRY SENSATION CAKE

1 box yellow cake mix, ¾ c. Cool Whip, 1 qt. strawberries, 1 can vanilla frosting

Mix and bake cake according to directions on package. Mix 1 cup strawberries with ¾ cup Cool Whip. Spread filling between cooled cake layers. Frost sides and top of cake. Put strawberries on top.