The Foodie


What’s Fresh in Early July: Strawberries, Sugar Snap Peas and Swiss Chard

July 01, 2009
by Erin Harris
Taste what’s fresh this month. In early July, plump strawberries, mountains of sugar snap peas and bundles of rich, tender Swiss chard await you at your local farmers market. Each one is a great source of fiber and bursting with vitamins to keep your heart healthy. Select your favorites and get cooking with the recipes featured below, or enjoy some of these summer treasures raw.


This small, heart-shaped fruit actually belongs to the rose family, which means that “[t]he strawberry you eat is not really a fruit or a berry but is the enlarged receptacle of the flower,” according to Bouquet of Fruits. Strawberries were once cultivated in Rome for medicinal purposes. Today, California produces 80 percent of our nation’s strawberries, shipping over 9 million pounds per day in peak season.

It’s hard to believe something so sweet could be so good for your health. But one cup of strawberries contains as much vitamin C as a cup of orange juice, and provides phytonutrients to help protect brain function and prevent cancer, according to The Food Paper. The high levels of fiber, folate and vitamin C also mean that the berries are great for your heart. As the Food Paper points out, “Even the indulgence of strawberries with champagne or a strawberry daiquiri has its advantages; researchers have recently discovered that alcohol boosts the natural antioxidant capacity of strawberries by one third and increases their ability to seek out and fight free radicals.”

Juicy, fragrant berries lie atop a cloud of velvety mousse in this indulgent dessert that is sure to impress friends. Strawberry white chocolate mousse can be whipped together from a few simple ingredients already in your kitchen. The decadent recipe from Mike’s Table includes photos of each step—blending, slicing and layering—to guide you smoothly through the preparation. Mike’s balsamic strawberry ice cream is another great summer recipe to try.

Sugar Snap Peas

Only 5 percent of the nation’s peas are eaten fresh, with the majority being sold in cans or frozen. However, sugar snap peas, tiny pearls enrobed in fresh, crisp pods, make the perfect snack this time of year and add a sweet crunch when tossed into salads, pastas or stir fry. Find tips about selection, storage and preparation at the Tony Tantillo Shop.
A creamy medley of sweet peas and savory ham blends perfectly with the subtle flavors of aromatic garlic, fresh parmesan and cracked black pepper in this recipe for ham risotto with sugar snap peas courtesy of Cooking Light magazine. Round out the meal with a light glass of Pinot Grigio, which will complement the white wine used in the risotto broth.

Swiss Chard

You may be surprised to learn that Swiss chard does not hail from Switzerland; in fact, it is native to the Mediterranean region, according to the BigOven Food Dictionary. The vegetable owes its common name to a 19th-century Swiss botanist called Koch, who gave Swiss chard its scientific name. With its deeply colored, nutrient-rich leaves, Swiss chard belongs to the ranks of cruciferous vegetables, which also include broccoli, cauliflower and turnips, and are believed to prevent certain types of cancer.

One cup of cooked Swiss chard contains more than 300 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin K, a nutrient that keeps bones healthy. The slightly bitter-tasting leafy green is also a great source of fiber; magnesium; vitamins A, C and E; potassium and iron. It also appears to prevent high blood pressure and act as an anti-inflammatory for people suffering from asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, according to The World's Healthiest Foods.

The recipe for farfalle with swiss chard from Serious Eats is so simple that it can be tossed together any night of the week. Sauté Swiss chard in garlic and olive oil, toss with fresh pasta and add a kick of flavor with crushed red pepper and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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