It is full-on berry season right now, and the markets are overflowing with ripe red raspberries, plump blackberries and juicy strawberries. We cannot stop eating them and have been keeping bowl fulls on our desk for snacking during the day. I love summer’s bounty; don’t you? One of my favorite ways to use blackberries is this recipe for spicy blackberry sauce, it is perfect with all grilled meats and fish.
Whole Foods recently invited us to join them for a summer berry kick-off. They supplied us with berries, and we invited a few friends over some fun. It was great fun to play an entire menu around different berries.
We started off the evening with some small nibbles: pistachios, roasted olives with citrus, and blueberry thyme gin fizzes. The cocktail was so refreshing on a hot night. It is made with a simple syrup of blueberries and thyme. The juniper undertones of the gin pairs really nicely with the slightly tart blueberries and the floral thyme. It was like summertime in a glass.
Our main course was a grilled rack of lamb served with a savory berry sauce. The sauce was made with plump blackberries, shallots, ginger, and Serrano chili to add a little heat. The sweet berries played along nicely with the Serrano chili and the smokey meat. Our friends were shocked that the sauce was made with berries as they had never thought to make a savory berry sauce. Alongside the grilled lamb, we served an arugula salad which was dressed with toasted pecans, red onions, and red raspberries; a sticky balsamic dressing coated to eat a tender bite. As well, the left-over berry sauce made a great glaze. I simply reheated it with some brown sugar and used it as a glaze over grilled chicken. Outstanding!
For dessert, there was only one dish that would be perfect for the evening, our brown sugar pavlova with passionfruit and mixed berries. This is a favorite of ours to serve during summer dinner parties. It is light, and the slightly tart passionfruit goes really well with the sweet berries. As well it really WOWs your guests.
Take advantage of the summer bounty and enjoy berries to their fullest. They are not only great to snack on but they are also great additions to many recipes. Don’t limit yourself to just baking, either, as they are great in savory dishes.
Recipe: Spicy Blackberry Sauce
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water or white wine
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced serrano pepper
In a saucepan, gently heat the olive oil over medium heat (about a 4 on our stove).
Add the shallot. Stir and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add the blackberries and break-up with a wooden spoon.
Add the water, ginger, and pepper. Stir and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and the blackberries have broken down.
Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Put the mixture into a food processor and pulse for 1 minute until the mixture is blended.
Return to the saucepan and gently warm over very low heat. Serve with grilled pork tenderloin or lamb ribs.