Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook


Local strawberries-We experience the fresh plucked from the farm or the large kitchen garden variety shining in salads, smooshed and cooked as glazes and toppings in baked goods and, of course, sweet and simply naked. Make sure you know the origins of your strawberries as they are the most pesticide laden fruit.

Historically, the Romans prized wild strawberries for their medicinal properties. The wild variety isn’t readily available in the US but we still gain great nutritional fat-free benefits from the ruby red fruit-which wears its seeds on the outside. One cup of berries has a mere 50 calories and ounce per ounce, more  vitamin C than citrus fruits.

The best way to store fresh strawberries is to place them in a container which allows air to circulate. Do not crowd or pile in layers if possible. Wash the amount of berries you will use just before working with them. Make sure to blot very dry.



Spicy Strawberry BBQ Glaze
Makes 1 1/2 cups

A fruity yet savory glaze, this grilling sauce is lovely on top of grilled wild salmon. It also was the perfect touch for a boneless skinless turkey breast I just tested. Slather it on pork tenderloin or chops.


  • 2 cups local fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root, optional
  • 1/2 Srricha sauce
  • 3 tablespoons green onions or garlic scapes, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a jar and chill, covered, until ready to use.

A Favorite Summer Salad

Serves 4-6

Here we have another savory treatment for fresh strawberries. In response to a Washington Post article, a nameless reader gave their fresh light salad recipe. I’ve added a few touches.

  • 4 cups hulled strawberries, quartered (1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine the strawberries, basil, vinegar in a large bowl, and gently toss to coat. Cover and chill for about an hour.

Combine cucumbers and lemon juice; toss to coat. Add cucumber mixture, salt, and pepper to strawberry mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.


Strawberry Pie with Meringue Crust

Serves 8

A dear friend always brings this tempting dessert when local strawberries are at their peak. It is fat free if you, obviously, skip the whip cream. Make sure to plan ahead as the meringue crust would do well made a day in advance.

Meringue crust

  • 3 tablespoons finely ground blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Strawberry Filling

  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon juice
  • 3/4 cup quality raspberry or strawberry preserves
  • 2 pints strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Prepare meringue crust

Preheat oven to 275F.

Stir together finely ground blanched almonds and cornstarch in small bowl.

Beat 2 egg whites until foamy in small bowl with mixer at high speed. Add cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in almond mixture. Spread mixture onto bottom and sides of a well greased 9 inch pie plate, building up sides to form a shell. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off heat.

Leave meringue in oven with door closed for 1 hour or overnight. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Makes 1 pie shell.

In a medium bowl, combine the lemon zest, juice and preserves. Mix well. Gently fold in the strawberries. Spoon into prepared crust. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set.

Just before serving, place dollops of whipped cream over pie.

Strawberry Swirl with Fruit Spears

Serves 6-8

Creamy orange liqueur tinged mascarpone is woven with a lush strawberry sauce. The result is tangy, smooth, creamy and so satisfying.

Strawberry sauce

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sour Cream Sauce

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup mascarpone (or sour cream)
  • biscotti, ginger snap cookies, fresh fruit such as melon, more strawberries, cherries, peaches, pineapple, cut into spears


To make the strawberry sauce: Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook 4 minutes. Add strawberries and cook another 3 minutes. Crush strawberries with a fork. Cool and add vanilla


While the mixture cooks, place the brown sugar and orange liqueur in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the mascarpone and chill.


To Assemble: Dollop the creamy mixture into a medium serving bowl. Dollop the strawberry sauce in between. With a flat table knife, swirl the mixture until variegated but not combined. You want the two sauces to remain identifiable.


Serve in bowl surrounded with cookies and fresh fruit.



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