It’s that time of year when sun-ripened, bright red berries start appearing in our backyard gardens, at farmers markets around the state and in desserts at local restaurants. Look for strawberries from early May through June and then again in August through September. Totem, Hood, Tillamook, Firecracker, Puget Reliance, Puget Summer and Redcrest are popular varieties. Many Oregon farmers offer U-Pick strawberries or freshly picked berries at farm stands: check out area farmers markets or visit local farms like Draper Girls in Parkdale, Farmer John’s Produce in McMinnville, French Prairie Gardens in St. Paul, and Columbia Farms U-Pick on Sauvie Island.
Celebrate with other berry lovers at the Old Aurora Colony Strawberry Social on June 26. Enjoy strawberry desserts, live music, crafts for kids and a stroll through the historic Ox Barn Museum (included in festival admission). On July 15-16, you’ll find Oregon berries transformed into ice creams, pies, cobblers, jams, shortcakes, sauces, liqueurs, chocolates, sodas and much more at the annual Oregon Berry Festival in Portland.
In your own kitchen, turn your fresh Oregon berries into a perfect summer potluck dish with this recipe, borrowed from the newly released Portland Farmers Market Cookbook, by local author Ellen Jackson.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
By Kathy Unger, co-owner of Unger Farms
- Makes 6 servings
- ½ cup walnut oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced shallots
- 3 T red wine vinegar
- 2 t dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bunches spinach
- 1 pint strawberries, thinly sliced
- ½ cup coarsley chopped and toasted walnuts
- 2 ounces Parmesan
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil with the shallots. Reduce the heat to low and cook until they have softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and mustard, whisking to emulsify Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep the dressing warm.
In a large serving bowl, place the spinach and season it with salt and pepper before adding 1 ½ cups of the strawberries and walnuts. Add half the vinaigrette, toss well to coat, then add more, 1 T at a time, until ingredients are dressed to your liking. You’ll probably have some vinaigrette leftover.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmesan over the top of the salad and garnish with the remaining strawberries. Serve immediately.