Berry Bonanza: savory stuff

By Brenna O’Dea

Berries are some of the sweetest summer treats to find at the farmer’s market. But they are good for more than just desserts. This one goes out to all of you born WITHOUT a sweet tooth. Personally, I cannot relate to you…at all. I have quite the insatiable sweet tooth. It is just a natural gift I have, lucky me. If you prefer the salty things in life, then berries might come more in handy than you would expect this summer. Especially when you find yourself with more than you bargained for. Maybe there was some great deal on them at the market and you just had to have a dozen pints of blueberries. You think, hey, I love blueberries, I will totally be able to eat all of these before they go bad. Snack times get away from you and lunch plans change, and before you know it five days have past and you are only halfway through that bucket o’ berries. Before you go tossing them in the trash, wait, stop, don’t! For those berries that are past their prime and are lacking that fresh-off-the-vine flavor, these savory berry recipes are here to save the day.

Baked

That’s right, bake with those berries. We’re not talking about boring old blueberry muffins or strawberry shortcake. We’re talking about CHEESE. Yeah, BAKED CHEESE. Nothing screams “high of 90 degrees with plenty of sun and 80 percent humidity” like hot melty cheese. Okay, it might not sound THAT appealing at the moment. But for the cooler summer nights, when you are entertaining a crowd and craving something decadent, this Baked Feta with Rosemary Blackberry Compote will TOTALLY hit the spot. It is best served super hot, but I mean, it’s cheese. And it’s smothered in fresh berry-honey-lemon loveliness. It’s gonna taste pretty damn good no matter what temperature it is.

Pickled

Now let’s cool it off with something just as salty but a bit less steamy. I’m talkin’ about one of the saltiest snacks out there…not chips or cheese puffs or anything that comes out of a plastic bag. I’m talking’ about PICKLES. Homemade pickles to be specific. Homemade pickled blueberries to be more specific. Pickled blueberries, you ask? Yes indeed. These Pickled Blueberries with Rosemary Sprigs might just be one of the most interesting things you snack on all summer long. This is also a super fun and fascinating way to get your lil’ munching monsters more involved in the kitchen. You can tell them all about pickling and preserving foods, just like we’ve done in a few of our Pilot Light lessons! They can help stir all of the ingredients together, and practice a bit of patience while you wait one whole week until the pickled berries are ready to EAT. That part may prove difficult…but remember, you can keep chowing down on fresh berries in the meantime.

Salsa & Ceviche

Finally, for those backyard barbecues and dinner parties when it is truly too hot to handle anything above room temperature, berries always make a great addition to some salsa or ceviche, or both! This scallop and blueberry ceviche is so simple an so satisfying. Berries and cream…berries and chocolate…berries and…fish?? Yup. It works. It just works. Something about the textures, the flavors, the freshness of the ingredients, it can make for the perfect palate cleansing summer dish. Don’t let the main ingredient, scallops, intimidate you. Scallops can be a doozy to cook, the good thing here is, you don’t need to cook them! It’s ceviche, duh! All ya gotta do is marinate, mix, and munch. And for your diners who live by the ol’ “fish are friends, not food” way of life, this simple berry salsa calls for strawberries AND blueberries, and really any kind of berry that you love to love. Both of these recipes have a little kick to them, but for your little ones who can’t quite handle the heat, don’t kick ’em outta the kitchen. Just ease up on the spice. These dishes will still be DELICIOUS.

For all of your sweet AND savory berrylicious needs, we hope you feel ready, and hungry, to dive right in. Farmer’s market fresh berries are the best, but if you want something even FRESHER (hard to believe, we know) hit up these hot spots for berry picking not too far from the city. Get ready for a summer of full buckets, and full bellies.

(Image by flickr member mauka-makai licensed under Creative Commons)

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