Three cheers for u-pick season!
Hit the fields and pick your own strawberries. Just remember to call ahead and bring a camera. Here’s a sampling of locations in the region:
Brumbaugh’s Farm: 2575 County Line Road, Telford, 215-723-3508
Highland Orchards: 1000 Marshallton Thorndale Road, West Chester, 610-269-3494
Linvilla Orchards: 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116
Maple Acres Farm and Market: 2656 Narcissa Roadd, Plymouth Meeting, 610-828-7395
Weaver’s Orchard: 40 Fruit Lane, Morgantown, 610-856-7300
Shortcake’s sublime. Pie’s pleasant. And trifle’s terrific. But this season, sample strawberries’ savory side, starting with spaghetti.
“It’s a little sweet, a little tart, a little acid. It’s surprisingly good,” described Brenda Kieffer, executive chef at Kieffer’s Appliances in Upper Gwynedd. “Everybody I’ve ever made it for looks at me like I’ve got two heads. And then they taste it, and they love it.”
She combines strawberries, San Marzano tomatoes, high-quality balsamic vinegar and homemade egg pasta.
“When there are fresh, local strawberries, it’s really an amazing dish,” said Kieffer, also an instructor at Montgomery County Community College’s Culinary Enthusiast program.
Just “don’t make it outside of strawberry season.” And “please don’t put cheese on it,” she added with a laugh.
However, cheese lovers can enjoy strawberry-goat cheese bruschetta, “a somewhat sweet, mostly savory, all-delicious appetizer or even dessert” from The Inn at Grace Winery in Glen Mills.
“I like using fruit in savory recipes,” said chef Scott Megill. “It’s always kind of unexpected.”
He serves Shellbark Hollow Farm’s goat cheese on a “good sourdough or multigrain baguette” with “luscious strawberries” and “brown sugar because it gives another little depth of flavor.”
“A big part of my philosophy in general is trying to use the best product you can and showcasing it,” he explained.
And for an entrée, try grilled chipotle pork tenderloin with spicy strawberry salsa.
“That’s a great one that my chef created,” said Chris Welsh, executive chef and owner of The Secret Ingredient Personal Chef Service based in Wayne. “It’s that delicate balance between savory and sweet.”
Chipotle adds just the right amount of heat.
“It’s tough to do it and have it work because if the hot dominates sweet or vice versa, you miss the point,” she noted. “I think it’s a perfect recipe, and I love the salsa.”
Spaghetti with Strawberries
1 tablespoon grape-seed oil or other neutral oil
1½ cups strawberries, cut in half or quarters, if large
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes (canned)
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon basil chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
Put grape-seed oil and half of the berries in a skillet. Add the balsamic. Cook on medium until tender and starting to release their juices. Add the remaining half of the berries. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Squeeze and break up the tomatoes into the same skillet as the berries. Add salt and pepper, stir and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened, but not dry - maybe 15 minutes. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Add cooked pasta directly to the skillet with a wire mesh strainer. (You want some of the water to cling to the pasta as you transfer.) Stir the pasta to coat and heat, adding a little pasta water if the sauce seems too dry. Sprinkle with basil and almonds.
RECIPE COURTESY OF EXECUTIVE CHEF BRENDA KIEFFER
Grilled Chipotle Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Strawberry Salsa
Serves 6 to 8
For the pork:
3 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
¼ cup chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), drained and minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
For the salsa:
5 cups quartered strawberries, stems removed
3 cups chopped kiwi
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
Place the tenderloins, chipotle peppers, lime juice and pork seasonings in a freezer bag. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Prepare your grill according to manufacturer’s instructions. Grease the rack with cooking spray. Grill tenderloins for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees (slightly pink), turning occasionally. Let stand 10 minutes, and slice. Combine all the salsa ingredients and toss. Serve on the side or over pork loin.
RECIPE COURTESY OF THE SECRET INGREDIENT PERSONAL CHEF SERVICE
Strawberry-Goat Cheese Bruschetta
1 (16-ounce) container strawberries, cleaned and halved
1 cup goat cheese
½ baguette, sourdough or multigrain sliced ¼- to ½-inch thick
¼ cup brown sugar (less if berries are very ripe)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and coarsely cracked black pepper
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Heat vinegar in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Simmer until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Prepare a grill for high heat. Place bread slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Combine strawberries, brown sugar and thyme in a small bowl and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes. Grill bread on the preheated grill until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Spread goat cheese on toasted bread. Add black pepper and salt to the strawberry mixture. Spoon over the goat cheese-topped bruschetta. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and garnish with additional thyme.
RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF SCOTT MEGILL