I'm back with another post, sorry about the sporadic posts things are very busy. I'm still getting over the cold I caught a few weeks back, this cough will not go away. I suppose one good thing came out of this cold, sitting in the doctor's office, I came across an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The issue featured a showcase on strawberries, all strawberries all the time. What a great idea! Better yet, my new found love of going to the local farmer's market had to play into the bento. So the mission was produce the strawberry bento supplemented with ingredients from the farmers market.
The farmers market was chock full of wonderful produce and meats. The prices were perhaps a little bit more than I would spend on groceries, but if you factor in the cost of organic produce I think the money comes out the same. The real difference is that all of that money goes straight to the hardworking local farmers. It was great speaking with the farmers, they were all very eager to explain their produce. In the photo you see three types of heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, a large bunch of basil, local honey, and hand made strawberry jam. It was nice tasting the tomatoes side by side there is a distinct difference in acidity and texture, I recommend going to your local farmers market and trying some. I hope to continue to go and shop at the market and check out the meats and fish (straight from the gulf) and create some nice bentos.
We'll start with a spinach salad garnished with tomatoes and strawberries accompanied by a strawberry vinaigrette. This one was a bit of an improv as I couldn't resist doing something with those beautiful tomatoes. The dressing was actually perfect for the salad, a bit more sweet than a regular vinaigrette to really complement the tomatoes and spinach.
This particular recipe took me a bit off guard. I would not have really considered strawberries for any sort of savory recipe. In some way it makes a lot of sense to replace tomatoes with strawberries on a bruschetta. I tossed in some arugula for that hit of spice and made use of that beautiful basil from the market. The goat cheese and strawberries broiled nicely in the oven. This was a very colorful and tasty dish.
I served the pulled pork as a wrap, so as a condiment I put together this strawberry salsa together. Again I supplemented the recipe with some of those wonderful tomatos. I'm quite impressed with the use strawberries in all of these recipes, it is inspiring me to look into more creative uses of other fruits.
Finally the star of the show is a really tasty pulled pork with a strawberry barbecue sauce. The pork was cooked with fresh strawberries and braised for two and a half hours. While the pork was resting you skim and reduce the liquid and add more strawberries. The strawberries provided the sweet component to the sauce as opposed to the sugar you would normally use in a bbq sauce. I think this is my favorite pulled pork recipe. I bought a nice new dutch oven for the occasion which produced a superior pulled pork. This recipe is a definitely a keeper.
I've learned a lot about looking at ingredients and trying to cast them in a new light than what I'm use to. This was a fun bento, and a welcome distraction from my busy schedule these days. Hopefully I can get back to a regular schedule again soon. As always thanks for stopping by, and if there's a recipe you want I'm happy to post it in the comments just ask!