Strawberries are sugar-sweet, affordable, and omnipresent -- even if you can't pick your own, you'll find pints and quarts of them at roadside stands and red seas of them in the produce aisle. These berries are delicious on their own, sprinkled with sugar, or in breakfast recipes, desserts, and even salads.
In Season: Fresh strawberries are available year-round in many regions of the country, with the peak season from April to June.
What to Look For: Buy strawberries that are bright red (with no white or green around the stem), fragrant, and plump, with no soft spots.
How to Store: If using right away, it's best not to refrigerate them. Otherwise, lay the berries flat on a paper-towel-lined plate and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Do not rinse or hull until ready to use.
It's easy to make your own version of this luscious treat: Just dip large strawberries in melted semisweet chocolate and then coat in finely chopped pistachios (or any other nut). These are best made the day you want to serve them, as condensation may form on the chocolate if they stay in the refrigerator for too long.
Kids and grown-ups will clamor for these frozen strawberry pops made from just two ingredients: fresh, ripe berries and confectioners' sugar. If you don't have ice-pop molds, pour the strawberry mixture into plastic or paper cups and insert wooden spoons or sticks before freezing.
The flavors of classic strawberry shortcake take on a new and dainty form in these layered desserts. Assemble individual servings in teacups, beginning with a layer of strawberry gelatin, followed by vanilla panna cotta, and then a circle of pound cake. Invert the teacups to unmold the jellies and serve them with fresh strawberries.
To make this sophisticated dessert, basil leaves are simmered in heavy cream to add a subtle perfume to the whipped cream filling. Bake one large shortcake (or eight smaller ones, if you prefer) and top with sweetened strawberries, small basil leaves, and the basil whipped cream.
Vanilla sponge cake is baked in a jelly roll pan, then spread with a mixture of strawberries and whipped cream before being rolled into a spiral. Laying the cake on a kitchen towel sprinkled with confectioners' sugar makes it easier to roll, even if you're a baking novice.