Berries offer many nutritional benefits and typically have a sweet flavor. While berries are fine and dandy to eat on their own, there are many delicious ways to prepare and cook these fruits to elevate their flavor and make truly outstanding dishes. Check out some of these berries and how you can cook with them:
The strawberry is peppered with many seeds on the outside and is topped with a green, leafy cap. Strawberry shortcake -- fresh strawberries over sponge cake, topped with whipped cream -- is a classic recipe that uses this fruit, but there are many more ways to use strawberries. You can add diced strawberries to a mix with diced tomatoes, onions, lime juice, salt and pepper to make a tasty salsa with a sweet tang to it. Or you can puree strawberries with tomatoes or chili sauce, add some seasonings and create a more tart barbecue sauce. Diced strawberries can also be used in salads, biscuits and ice cream, or tossed into a blender for a smoothie.
This small fruit grows on bushes with clusters of small white or pink flowers. Blueberries' flavor can range from tart to sweet.
Blueberries are often used in smoothies, pies, muffins and pancakes, but they can be key ingredients in savory dishes as well -- try blending blueberries with balsamic vinegar for a fruit vinaigrette to top fish and meat dishes. You can add blueberries to salad greens, cheese spreads, breads and chicken salads to add a level of tartness to these dishes. Blending blueberries together with some red wine can also make for a really nice marinade for meats.
Raspberries are commonly found in jams, jellies and vinaigrettes, but have a lot of potential in the culinary world. Raspberries pair well with chocolate, go well in biscuits and add a sharp sweetness to smoothies. Raspberries also work well with tomatoes, chili peppers, red bell peppers and red wine, as these ingredients can be blended together to make a tangy sauce for meats.
Blackberries are popular in jams, jellies and pies, but are also great in cobblers, cakes and smoothies. Blackberries can make a nice addition to muffins and custards, and are a great topping for salads, ice cream and yogurts. Try pureeing blackberries with tomatoes and chili sauce, add some brown sugar, dried mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a barbecue sauce with a fruity spin.
Cranberries are popular around the holidays and can be added to stuffing or chicken dishes. Dried cranberries can be a treat while baking because they are a great addition to muffins or biscuits, and they can add texture and flavor to a salad. For a nice sauce to serve with any meat, cooking down cranberries and blending them with balsamic vinegar and caramelized onions will do the trick.
Grapes come in a wide range of varieties, including red, purple, green, white and black. They grow on vines and in bunches, and they are a key ingredient in wine and jelly. They can also be dried to make raisins.
Grapes can be cut up and added to salad greens or chicken salad. You can roast grapes, add them to soft cheese, season them with herbs such as rosemary or thyme, and spread on crusty or toasted bread for a delicious topping. Grapes can also be added to sweeter desserts such as ice cream, sorbet and cakes.
Contrary to what many believe, tomatoes are not vegetables -- they are fruit, and more specifically, they are berries. Tomatoes grow on vines and have multiple varieties, such as heirloom, hybrid and cherry tomatoes.
Tomatoes can be added to just about any dish, and cherry tomatoes are commonly in salads and as a pizza topping. Roma tomatoes make a great base for pizza and pasta sauces and are great to dice for salsa. They can be oven-dried to remove the water and leave a sweet tasting tomato that can be made into Pomodoro sauce or just eaten as a side. Different tomatoes can even be made into sweets, such as pie, cupcakes, sorbet, turnovers and popsicles.
Avocados can be made into a great spread, a hearty addition to salads or pureed and used as a substitute for butter in cooking and baking. It can be sliced up and added to sandwiches or baked with some salt and pepper for a little snack on its own. Mashed avocados allow you to make guacamole, or add to pudding or ice cream to give them that creamy avocado flavor.