Strawberry Fields Forever

By Emily Chavez  |  Photos by Luis Chavez

A summertime favorite for many — and one of Oxnard’s most prized crops — strawberries are so rich with sweetness, so vibrant with color that they make their way into just about every cocktail, salad and dessert. For your next golden afternoon, treat yourself to this berry-licious menu that gives your oven a break.

Strawberry Bourbon Cocktail

Yields: 1 drink
Total Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes

• 3 hulled strawberries
• 10-12  fresh mint leaves
• 1 lemon
• 2 oz. bourbon whiskey
• 1 oz. simple syrup
• Ice
• 2 teaspoons sugar

– Muddle the strawberries and eight mint leaves in a cocktail shaker until evenly mashed.
– Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half into the shaker.
– Rub the rim of a glass with the cut lemon and dip in sugar to coat.
– Add bourbon and simple syrup to the shaker, and shake for one minute.
– Pour over ice into the lemon- and sugar-rimmed glass.
– Garnish with remaining mint leaves and a lemon slice.

Strawberry Walnut Spinach Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Total Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes

• 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 cups hulled and halved strawberries
• 1/2 cup feta cheese
• 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
• 3/4 cup walnuts
• 4 cups fresh spinach
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

– Reduce the vinegar: Over medium heat, bring the balsamic vinegar to a high simmer (do NOT boil). Stir and reduce heat to a low simmer until the vinegar is thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
– Toss spinach with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
– Place strawberries, feta, avocado and walnuts on top of the spinach.
– Finish by drizzling with the balsamic reduction.

Lemon Strawberry Tart

Yield: 6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes

• 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
• 1 lemon, squeezed for juice
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 whole eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted and divided
• 1 packet gelatin, unflavored
• 10-13 sheets of graham crackers

– In a food processor, purée the fresh cut strawberries into a smooth liquid.
– Add to a medium pot the liquefied strawberries, sugar, salt, eggs, and 3 tablespoons of the melted butter.
– While continuously stirring, cook the mixture on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until thick. Reduce heat as needed to prevent bubbling.
– Remove mixture from heat and strain to remove solids.
– Stir into mixture the gelatin amount according to desired firmness (read package directions) and set aside.
– To make the crust, pulse the graham crackers in the food processor with the remaining melted butter and lemon juice until a dough starts to come together and holds its shape when pressed.
– Press the crust dough into the bottom and sides of a tart pan.
– Pour in the strawberry filling and place in the refrigerator to set, approximately one hour for a soft set.
– Garnish, slice and serve.

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