“You better go buy some strawberries tomorrow, don’t wait another day.”
This was the ominous warning Henry gave me yesterday when I plucked a particularly perfect berry out of a basket in his kitchen. Apparently the local J&D produce place in town had warned him that due to high rainfall this year, the local strawberry fields were flooded and berries were rotting early. So today was the LAST DAY to get any local berries, which is what led me to almost getting in a fight at the J&D parking lot when 4 cars were all trying to cram into the one little spot left. If I had been at Target I would’ve been like, “screw this” and just headed on home, but strawberries are worth putting up a fight. Fact.
I have been trying for the last hour to figure out a way to fully express my love of strawberries and have finally concluded: it can’t be done. It just cannot be expressed in words. Especially during the summer, I would eat them every day and with every meal if possible. Strawberries make everything better, from salads to biscuits to pie. Mojitos? Make mine a strawberry mojito, please and thank you.
Traditional panzanella is made with chunks of crusty bread and tomatoes, and is a dish that has long eluded me. See, everyone falls into two categories: those that love raw tomatoes, and those that don’t. I am of the latter variety. So, although it looks so pretty and inviting, I just know that I’ll never be able to get over the bitter raw tomato taste of a traditional panzanella.
Strawberry panzanella, however, is a whole new ball game. Same pretty look, but a far sweeter taste. If you’re reveling in summer berries where you are, this salad is a must. And yes, it will make that fight over the last basket of berries totally worth it.
Strawberry Panzanella Salad
(1) 12″ baguette, torn into small chunks
2 pints of strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the bread in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then toss a bit in the pan. Bake another 10-15 minutes, or until almost fully golden brown. I like them crunchy but not hard as a rock. Allow to cool completely.
In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and honey. In a large bowl toss together the cooled croutons, strawberries, goat cheese and balsamic dressing. Allow to chill for about 30 minutes before serving.