Refreshing salsa of strawberries, sweet onion, chocolate nibs, mint and a little lime juice – perfect with chevre and crackers.
I thought I’d share some fun strawberry factoids today that you can toss around at your next cocktail party since this recipe is ALL about strawberries, and they’re quickly coming into season now in many parts of the country.
- The botanical name for strawberry is fragaria, which means fragrance. Fitting, don’t you think?
- Strawberries belong to the rose family. A few judicious drops of rose water in recipes calling for strawberries will emphasize their floral aspect.
- There is some debate over the provenance of the word “strawberry”, but the two reigning beliefs are because: 1) straw was used between the rows to keep the berries clean and to protect them in the winter; and 2) in Europe, ripe berries were carried to market threaded on straws. Take your pick.
- Strawberries are a pseudofruit. A fruit is defined as a plant that grows a shell around a seed to protect it, which strawberries clearly do not do. But look at a strawberry under a magnifying glass, or more specifically at all those dots on the surface of the strawberries that we think of as seeds, and you’ll see that they’re actually small green plants. The seeds are actually inside of them, making the dots on the surface of the strawberries the actual fruit. So the strawberry itself is technically a delicious and colorful stem that holds the ovaries which encloses the seeds. Who knew?
- Strawberries provide more vitamin C than oranges, and are also an excellent source of potassium and folic acid. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that guards against cancer. They’re considered an eliminative food, and therefore good for the intestinal track. But the seeds can be irritating to those who suffer inflammation of the bowel or colitis.
- Once strawberries are picked, they will never ripen any further.
- Some report that strawberries benefit from thermotherapy, which means to say dipping strawberries in very warm water (125°F) for roughly 45 seconds, then letting completely dry before storing. The theory is that the heat from the water destroys mold spores, allowing the berries to last longer in the refrigerator. I haven’t run any side-by-side tests, so I can’t confirm this, but if you decide to test it out I’d recommend drying them quickly. My favorite method is to line the basket of a small salad spinner with a paper towel, and place the wet strawberries on the paper towel. Whirl the basket in the spinner just as you would for lettuce. It’s amazingly efficient and effective.
- 6 large strawberries, hulled and chopped (about 1¾ cups when chopped)
- ½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped (Vidalia onions are perfect here!)
- 2½ Tbsp fresh mint, minced
- 1½ Tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp chocolate nibs
- 2 tsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp finely chopped dried ancho chili (optional)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp fresh black pepper
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and chill for 30 minutes.