We're at the stage of the year where fridges across the country will be full of strawberry related treats, such as Pavlovas, Eton messes and strawberry shortcakes
Strawberries are both undeniably delicious and nutritious, full of antioxidants and vitamins. A key ingredient in a number of recipes over the year, few of us are aware of it's true versatility.
Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, strawberries can transform any meal from the mundane to the mouth-watering.
Gary Durrant, Head Chef at Hunter 486, offers his top tips on how to make the most of strawberry season to create unique strawberry-centric dishes.
Hot and cold
Roasting strawberries creates some tremendously tasty results, especially when paired with Cornish vanilla ice-cream. To make the most of oven-baked fruit, make sure you remove the stem. Then cut it into quarters and whisk it together with a dash of maple syrup. With a summer dessert, presentation plays a key part, so let the strawberry slices cool down before scattering them around neatly on top of the ice cream.
Begin at breakfast
A delicious breakfast treat is sliced strawberries with rhubarb pieces, spread over two thick slices of toast. Make sure you have a thorough fusion of flavours and press it gently into the bread before chilling it in the fridge overnight. Fry your bread slices the following morning in a pan with plenty of butter. You can add dashes of cinnamon and brown sugar too (this is optional), and then serve this a generous helping of Greek yoghurt. Preparation is key with this dish but it's definitely worth the effort.
Scoop it out
Strawberry cheesecake is a much-loved classic, and a popular party pudding for any occasion. Why not re-invent the traditional recipe and try a new dinner party dessert? Scoop out the centre of the strawberry and replace it with the cheesecake filling. The classic combination of cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract will hold perfectly inside the fruit when served fresh out of the fridge. For an extra wow-factor, you can serve it with cinnamon glaze.
With the weather warming up, home-made strawberry ice-lollies make a great refreshing snack. Combine the crushed strawberries with a spoonful of sugar before mixing it into a cold jug of lemonade. Then, pour the liquid into ice-lolly moulds and place a wooden stick in the centre. Alternatively you can add strawberry slices to your ice cube tray and freeze them overnight - this trick will transform your summer beverage from simple to spectacular in a split second.
Seasonal summer salad
Contrary to the popular belief, strawberries are not strictly reserved for the sweet-toothed. You can inject a zing into your leafy summer salad by adding balsamic glazed strawberries into the mix. Gorgonzola cheese and pecan nuts will both work particularly well with this dish.
Tips courtesy of Gary Durrant of Hunter 486