Forget those under-ripe, pale-shouldered things that garnish every brunch order, fruit cup, and yogurt parfait all year long. In season strawberries are a whole new fruit. They’re juicy, tart, sweet, and red from tip to stem—and each is a giant mouthful of fragrance and flavor that plays well with ingredients and flavors well beyond the obvious. If you tend to stay on the beaten path when it comes to strawberries, read on for some new inspiration.
Flavors that go with strawberries—from the obviously sublime to the equally-but-less obviously sublime—include:
Vanilla, chocolate, fresh cream, yogurt (and cultured milks), ricotta (and other fresh cheeses), ice cream, custard, bananas, lemon, orange, rhubarb, apricots, mango, almonds and other tree nuts, peanuts, olive oil, sesame (tahini, halvah), coffee, things licorice-y (anis, anisette, fennel, pernod, absinthe, tarragon), cornmeal (or flour), buckwheat, rice flour, oats and oat flour, chestnut flour, tiger nut flour, honey, brown sugar (especially darker raw sugars), date syrup, red wine, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, basil, mint, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves.
So, how can you make some of these ideas work?
If you love strawberries with whipped cream, try them with rose or orange blossom whipped cream, or coffee whipped cream, or fold some crumbled halvah into the whipped cream or whip in some peanut butter or tahini. See here for more ways to flavor whipped cream:
If you love strawberries with sour cream (or yogurt) and brown sugar, try swapping your ordinary brown sugar for a darker, sexier raw sugar like dark muscovado, jaggery, or piloncillo. Or drizzle with honey or date syrup.
If you love strawberry shortcakes, swap your all purpose wheat flour biscuits or sponge cakes for biscuits or sponge cakes made with buckwheat, or cornmeal, or corn flour, or use a sponge cake made with oat flour or tiger nut flour.
If you love pancakes (or crepes or waffles) with strawberries, make those pancakes etc. with cornmeal or with corn, sorghum, or buckwheat flours.
If you love the classic pavlova with strawberries, try swirling a little peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini into the meringue before baking it. Or make meringue cookies with a little chestnut flour folded in and serve them with strawberries and vanilla whipped cream or ice cream.
If you love vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and strawberries (who doesn’t?), swap that chocolate sauce for a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of flaky salt. Or, with a drizzle of tahini followed by a drizzle of date syrup and/or some chopped or shredded halvah.
If you love thumbprint or linzer cookies, fill buckwheat thumbprint or linzer cookies with strawberry jam, or make sesame or tahini cookies filled with strawberry jam.
Try a cocktail with muddled strawberries and a splash of absinthe or Pernod. Don’t forget classics like strawberries in red wine, or strawberries with black pepper and balsamic vinegar.
If you make your own strawberry sorbet or strawberry jam, try adding fresh tarragon leaves or basil, or mint or rosemary—or add those herbs to lightly sweetened strawberries in a shortcake or to eat with a spoon.
And, if you want to stick with cream, there are still ways to get creative with that classic pairing.
What do you do with strawberries? Let us know in the comments!