Summer is ripe with possibility
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Sun-kissed summer berries are ideal for desserts, but their sweet, tangy juiciness can also add flare to savoury dishes.
The mouthfuls of sweet flavour, the heady perfume, and the oh-so vibrant colours—there are a lot of reasons to be overjoyed when berries come into season. Sure, many different berries are now available year-round, but imports simply can’t match the way that those grown close to home can awaken all the senses. Aside from being a gastronomic delight, berries are lauded by food scientists for their nutritional might. Chock full of a variety of nutrients and antioxidants in a concentrated package, the various guises of summer berries offer a plethora of brain-boosting, cancer-fighting health benefits. For instance, anthocyanin antioxidants in blueberries may help improve memory. When most people think of berries, they think of desserts and smoothies. For sure, there’s no shortage of ways to work juicy berries into various sweet treats and blended drinks. But don’t pigeonhole them into these culinary uses. Because of their unique sweet-tangy flavour profiles, these low-calorie, antioxidant-rich nutrition bombs are unexpectedly great when also worked into savoury dishes. That means you can enjoy berries on your menu from morning to night. Use these savoury recipes as a way to joyfully celebrate the arrival of the jewels of summer.
When available, consider going past the garden-variety berries and seeking out some ultra-seasonal varieties. Items such as currants, boysenberries, small wild blueberries, golden raspberries, Saskatoon berries, cape gooseberries, and lingonberries can add exciting flavours and plenty of nutritional perks to your summer menu. Their seasons are fleeting, so get them when you can.
We’re highlighting the savoury side of berries, but why not also use them to add a sweet finishing touch to a summertime meal? Here are some quick-fix berry good dessert ideas.
Simmer together chopped strawberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, and a few splashes of port wine until syrupy. Serve strewn over vanilla ice cream.
Blend together blueberries, ricotta cheese, cinnamon, and a touch of almond extract. Place in ice pop moulds and freeze.
Place fresh raspberries in bowls. Melt dark chocolate and drizzle over raspberries. Top with pistachios and coconut flakes.
Blend together blackberries, honey, lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla extract. Press mixture through fine-mesh sieve into bowl to remove seeds. Stir in some chopped mint. Place Greek yogurt in large bowl and gently fold in berry purée. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving garnished with granola.