Cooking with Carmelo Sigona, Featuring Local Strawberries

Cooking with Carmelo Sigona, Featuring Local Strawberries

These sweet gems from George Chiala Farms in Morgan Hill, Calif. are picked and delivered to our store within 24 hours – now that’s fresh! Strawberries are versatile – use them in desserts, entrées or alone with a little balsamic or whipped cream.

A few suggestions from Carmelo:

  • For the kiddos: One thing I always do, and especially did when my kids were home, is GET THEM OUT OF THE REFRIGERATOR, rinse them off, place on the table in a fancy dish with a paper towel to absorb any moisture. This brings them to room temperature…enhances the flavor and make them an accessible snack for the family.
  • Mini Meal: Sliced Berries & Fage yogurt. I sweeten the Fage yogurt with a little organic Agave nectar, put sliced berries over the yogurt and top with a touch of crumbled, raw nuts. This mini meal has it all: the carb, protein and a touch of healthy fat.
  • Strawberry smoothie: Experiment with any combination of fruits to find what you like best. For the liquid, I use a non-fat milk base or fresh squeezed juice. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of ice cold water. I also add in a frozen banana, some yogurt or protein mix (to thicken the smoothie) and, of course the star, the strawberries. Simple and delicious.
  • Save ‘em! Freezing extra ripe strawberries works well and eliminates waste. Simply stem, place on a flat surface (cookie sheet, plate, anything will work) in the freezer, after they freeze place in a resealable bag… this little process keeps them from clumping together fro easy use. These are great in smoothies.

Strawberry Balsamic Dessert for Two

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Sigona’s 6- or 12-year-aged Balsamic vinegar

Directions: Halve the strawberries and divide between two dessert bowls.  Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic. The sharpness of the balsamic actually intensifies the sense of the berries’ sweetness.  It’s a typical Italian way of serving strawberries. Skip the sugar!

Fresh Berry-Yogurt Crunch Parfait

Whether it’s for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, a tea-time treat or a midnight meal, yogurt hits the spot. A parfait made with creamy yogurt, local, fresh berries and well blended granola presents a healthy snack that looks like a delectable dessert!

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. container of yogurt (any flavor is great!)
  • ¾ cup Granola (find it in our bulk section)
  • ¾ cup fresh, sliced strawberries

Directions: In a parfait glass or a bowl, spoon in half the yogurt and lightly smooth the surface. Secondly, spread half of granola evenly on top of the yogurt. Lastly, add half of the sliced strawberries. Repeat these steps to add three more layers.

Cook’s note: You can also add in or substitute different flavors and fruits, such as raspberries or bananas, depending on your mood and what’s in season.

Strawberries over Gelato — Sicilian Style!

A good balsamic is already sweet due to the aging process, and our infused balsamics, such as the vanilla bean balsamic, are the perfect combination of sweet & tangy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Sigona’s aged Vanilla Bean balsamic
  • A generous scoop (or two!) of Massimo’s vanilla bean gelato

Directions: Scoop the gelato into two dessert bowls. Slice the strawberries and divide evenly between the two bowls. Just before serving, drizzle them with our outstanding 12-year, barrel-aged vanilla balsamic.

Sliced strawberries drizzled with balsamic is the typical Italian way of serving this dish.

Party Berry Bowl

Party Berry Bowl - photo courtesy of Sigona's customer Lisa Janny.

This is an easy and healthy mixed berry dish that is guaranteed a hit at any gathering. Berries are naturally low on the glycemic index.

Ingredients:

  • 3 baskets of strawberries
  • 1 basket each of raspberries, blueberries and olallieberries (or you can substitute blackberries)
  • ½ fresh cut pineapple, cut into chunks
  • ½ Tbl. Honey or pure 100% Organic Agave Nectar
  • 1 white gerbera daisy, for decoration (optional)

Directions: At least one hour before party time, rinse the strawberries, remove the stems and slice them into halves. Mix the strawberries in a large bowl with the remaining berries, pineapple and agave nectar. Let it sit for 1 hour, bringing the mix to room temperature. Be sure to gently toss the mixture 2-3 times an hour. Letting the mixture sit with the agave nectar brings out more of the berries’ natural sugars.

To  garnish to the dish, cut off the stem of the gerbera daisy, leaving only the blossom, and place it on atop the berry mix. The white of the daisy is a beautiful contrast to the delicious, vibrant colors of the berries.

Cook’s note: Choose berries with large seeds and those that are almost bleeding, meaning the berries are leaking juice. Bleeding berries indicate they were picked ripe, are super sweet and are ready to eat. Also, the juice from each berry will mix well with one another while it comes to room temperature, creating a uniform mixed berry flavor.

Strawberry, Shrimp and Feta Salad

The California Strawberry Commission website is loaded with strawberry recipes. We like this one because feta is a perfect compliment for strawberries. Makes 4 servings.

Picture from the California Strawberry Commission.

For the salad:

  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3/4 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp**
  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh California strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens, such as butter lettuce and watercress
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced (about 24 slices)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sigona’s traditional balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions: To make salad: In small bowl, toss onion with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette; set aside.

Over gas or charcoal grill or in grill pan on stove top, grill shrimp 5 minutes, turning once, or until pink and cooked through.

In another small bowl, toss strawberries with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. In large bowl, toss greens and onion with enough of the remaining vinaigrette to coat lightly. Divide among 4 chilled salad plates and arrange strawberries and shrimp on top of greens. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with slices of cucumber, equally divided.

To make vinaigrette: In small bowl, whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette.

**Cook’s note: For a variation, substitute shredded smoked chicken for the shrimp. Pre-cooked, shelled shrimp may be substituted for grilled shrimp.

Strawberry Shortcake

Courtesy of Sandra Moon Farley and her cookbook Cooking with Sandy: Ideas about Food & Recipes from Our Family.

Mix up a batch of breakfast biscuits (recipe follows) being a little more generous with the sugar and butter. If the dough is a little sticky, you can make spoon drop biscuits rather than rolled and cut biscuits.

While they’re baking, slice up some fresh strawberries, about ½ basket per person. Add about a tablespoon of brown sugar per basket and stir into the berries. This helps them juice up.

Serve biscuits, berries and sour cream (for dolloping). We usually let folks serve themselves family-style because not everyone wants sour cream. Brown sugar and sour cream are delightfully complimentary.

Breakfast Biscuits

If you are doing a savory breakfast with eggs and sausage or bacon, make the biscuits less sweet. If intended to be served with fresh berries (like for this shortcake recipe), up the sugar level. Makes 12 biscuits.

  • 2 cups flour (all purpose, or part whole wheat)
  • ¼ cup butter or shortening at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar (more or less to preference)
  • 1 TBL baking powder
  • ¾ cup liquid (either milk, soy milk or buttermilk*)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients and the butter with a pastry cutter or fork. Gradually add the liquid. Some flour absorbs more so you have to judge. The dough should come together.

Turn onto a floured board and fold and press several times. Use a biscuit cutter or glass to make circles. Refold the scraps and keep making biscuits. When you get down to the last little scrap of dough, roll it into a little snake and twist it into a knot it like a pretzel. (The pretzel biscuit was a sought after item with the kids were young.) Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes or until starting to turn golden.

*Sandra’s note: that if you’re using buttermilk, you’ll need to substitute 1 tsp baking soda for the baking powder because of the acid in the buttermilk.

Strawberry Salsa

This is a sweet & salty salsa with a little kick. Serve over grilled chicken, salmon or white fish such as mahi mahi, serve it as a dip with tortilla chips.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 cup diced papaya
  • 1/4 cup chopped Anaheim pepper, seeds removed
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped sweet red pepper, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cups diced pineapple
  • 2 TBL diced red onion
  • 2 TBL freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 TBL chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • ½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper

Directions: Prepare all the ingredients as noted above. In a medium bowl, gently stir together all prepared ingredients. Season with salt & pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld. Add more red pepper flakes and/or salt & pepper to taste, if necessary.

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