Have you tried a strawberry caprese, made the berries the star of a green salad, or transformed them into salsa or dips?

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Watercress, Strawberry, and Toasted-Sesame Salad
Credit: Gentl and Hyers

While this sweet red fruit is available year round in grocery stores, there's no better time to enjoy strawberries than in peak season, which spans from April to June, when they're bursting with flavor. For as much as we love strawberry desserts and enjoy them over yogurt or in other sweet applications, it's worth noting just how versatile these little berries are. Like many of our favorite fruits, strawberries are absolutely mouthwatering in savory-sweet combinations; use them to accentuate the salty, nutty, peppery, and other intensely savory flavors in salads, mains, sides, and more. Here, we're sharing five ways to make strawberries the star in your favorite savory spring and summer dishes.

Pair Red with Green in Strawberry Salads

One of our favorite savory ways to enjoy strawberries is as a key ingredient in crisp green salads, such as our Watercress and Strawberry Salad and Strawberry Spinach Salad. The berries soak up the dressing, releasing their sweet juices to balance bitter notes and coat the other ingredients. And the bright pop of color they lend to a dish makes for an eye-catching presentation.

A starter formula for strawberry salad is to pair the fruit with assertive greens like watercress, spinach, or kale; a briny cheese like feta or goat cheese; and a nutty note, such as toasted sesame seeds or almonds. Toss everything in a bright vinaigrette or creamy dressing and add in other salad ingredients as you see fit.

Add a Burst of Sweetness to Dips

Upgrade your dips and chips, crackers, or crudités by adding in a sweet note of diced or sliced strawberries. Swap tomatoes for strawberries in salsa with our Strawberry Salsa recipe, or else try them in pico de gallo, mixed into guacamole or yogurt-based dips, or scattered over hummus-like spreads. Whichever route you go, try stirring the berries in fresh or else roast or sauté them briefly to concentrate their flavor. Don't be afraid to add a little heat to the dips, as strawberries pair wonderfully with spicy chiles like jalapeño or pepper flakes.

Upgrade the Sweet Notes on Cheese Platters

Strawberries pair well with just about any cheese, so add them to just about any cheese platter. Assemble the cheese platter of your dreams, making sure to add a burst of color with whole or sliced strawberries or else opt for a strawberry jam that can be spread over the cheese and crackers. Another strawberries and cheese idea we can't get enough is over toast, as is the case with these Strawberry Goat Cheese Tartines.

Spoon Over Protein to Sweeten Up the Main

Continue exploring the savory combination by pairing strawberries with your main course. Liven up grilled or roasted chicken, steak, fish, or pork by spooning strawberry salsa or relish over top. Start by turning the dip ideas we mentioned above into sauces or swap the fruit into your favorite recipes. Not sure where to start? Try this: Sauté capers and garlic in olive oil then pour the briny oil over diced strawberries. Add a splash of vinegar like white balsamic or sherry, a drizzle of honey, and some chopped pistachios. It works beautiful with fresh ripe strawberries or toss the berries on the grill for a minute or two to add a little smoky char.

Make Summer's Best Salad Even Better

Sure, we've talked about salads and we've talked about cheese, but we haven't covered an iconic dish that is the best of both worlds: the caprese salad. Typically made with juicy-ripe tomatoes, this four-ingredient salad stands the test of time, but that doesn't mean we don't like to riff on it to keep it exciting. Our recommendation? Toss ripe strawberries right into this tomato and mozzarella salad, adding an additional layer of flavor and a fruity sweetness that brings out the sweet notes in balsamic vinegar and is balanced by the tangy side as well. It's a truly irresistible summer starter or side that doesn't require a recipe.

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