Enjoying the taste of sun-soaked berries, fragrant from the heat evokes the delightful nostalgia of a long summer afternoon.
These summer jewels are found in abundance in our area — more than a dozen local farms produce nine different types of berries. Along with the more common strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry, there are the loganberry, blackberry, boysenberry, gooseberry, marionberry, and the tayberry. They are gorgeous, bursting with flavor, and able to turn any dish into a shameless bite of decadence.
As if that were not enough, new studies continue to tout the powerful nutritional punch of fresh berries. These luscious beauties are full of antioxidants and disease fighters; are high in fiber, low in calories and completely fat free.
The local U-pick farms, roadside stands and area farmers markets will have the freshest berries.
Summer Rolls with Sweet and Hot Berry Sauce Berry Sauce
½ cup berry puree (about a ½ pint of berries. I used raspberries but any berry or combination of berries will do.)
Juice of ½ a lime
2 tablespoons honey (or more to taste)
¼ cup sake or dry white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pinch of grated ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
½ teaspoon salt
Puree ½ pint of raspberries in a blender.
Push the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with a rubber spatula into a small saucepan. Add lime juice, honey, sake and cornstarch mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust by adding more honey or red pepper flakes if needed. Set aside for 1 hour.
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 pinch sugar½ pound chicken breast, sliced into strips
4 ounces rice vermicelli
12 rice wrappers
12 lettuce leaves
12 large shrimp
3 celery stalks, cut into strips
Cilantro, basil or mint leaves
Combine the broth, fish sauce and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add chicken, and cook until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the rice vermicelli to the pot. Cook for 1 minute. Drain and spread on a plate to cool.
Soak the rice wrappers one at a time in hot water until soft, about 2 minutes.
Lay the wrapper flat on a work surface and place the lettuce leaf on top. Place the chicken, vermicelli, shrimp, celery and herbs across the wrapper in a “log” formation; roll tightly.
Set aside to rest, slice each of the logs diagonally in thirds.
Serve with sweet and hot berry sauce. Makes 36 pieces.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Raspberries
½ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ cup raspberry jam (seedless)
Zest from ½ lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
4 large handfuls mixed lettuces
1 pint raspberries, rinsed and drained
4 ounces goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
Chives for garnish
Salt and pepper
Whisk together vinegar, jam, lemon zest and sugar until sugar dissolves. Pour half the mixture into a bowl, add chicken and chill for 30 minutes to marinate; reserve the rest of the mixture for dressing.
Place the chicken on a well-oiled grill over medium heat and brush with marinade from the bowl. Cook about 5 minutes until browned, turn and cook about 6 minutes until no longer pink in the center.
Mix the lettuce with the remaining vinegar mix. Divide it among four dinner plates, sprinkle with raspberries. Top the salads with grilled chicken slices, goat cheese and garnish with chives. Season with salt and pepper.