T.S. Eliot had it right: while April carries the promise of spring and teases us with ramps and morels and other ephemeral delights, we’re still stuck with some of the least inspiring fruits of the year as lamented recently by my friend Kitchen Witch. Yes, we still have citrus since the growing season for many of the best fruits now extend through May, but after a solid five or six months of tart acidity, I know I’m dying for something, anything, different in the fruit stand that’s in season and therefore not mealy or ludicrously expensive. And in April, usually, that seems far too much to ask.
But then, while flipping through my copy of Spanish Country Kitchen one lazy Saturday morning, a dessert I had flipped past hundreds of times stood out to me as perhaps the perfect dessert for this time of year: fresh orange juice with strawberries. While most of the seasonal citrus fruits are beyond their peaks, Valencian oranges are just getting started: first appearing in February, they are available through October, and are ideal as juicing oranges. Seeing some good-looking Californian strawberries on sale 2/$5 at Stew Leonards’ sealed the deal, and a few nights later we enjoyed this simple treat on one of the warmer spring evenings we’ve had lately.
(Those have since fallen to the wayside, by the way, lest you think we are unfairly enjoying an early spring here.)
I’m not big on sprinkling sugar on berries–I think they’re sweet enough as they are–but I do enjoy the effect that macerating them with a little acid and a little sugar does when I’m craving something sweet without wanting something substantial. And look–it’s light, vegan, and gluten-free, and you can always use a natural sweetener in the place of sugar, making it an ideal spring and summer entertaining alternative. Keep some angel food or pound cake around if anyone would like to use this as a topping, but frankly–I like it just as it is.
And speaking of gluten free (nice segue I know)…you should go over and say guten tag to my friend The Gluten Free Frau! She’s new to blogging and will be sharing the various recipes she’s enjoyed, and she even has hinted that she’ll share some of her crafting projects to boot.. And she is a highly talented crafter.
Fresh Orange Juice with Strawberries/Zumo de Naranjas con Fresas
adapted from Spanish Country Cooking
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 3 Valencian oranges
- 2 tsp white or natural sugar (to taste)
Divide strawberries between two old-fashioned glasses or similar glassware (like a champagne coupe). Juice the oranges into the glasses, using about one and a half oranges per serving. Sprinkle with some sugar to taste, stir to combine and let sit for five to ten minutes to let the sugar and juice do their work.