Strawberries! A Shrub and a Salad for the Season

Space Division

Space Division

There are so many ways to use this tart syrup. I like a ratio of 3 tablespoons to ½ cup sparkling water for a light, refreshing drink. Or try muddling some mint and mix the shrub with rum or vodka and a splash of bitters. You just made your new favorite spring drink! Makes 3–4 cups syrup.

1 cup sugar 1 cup water 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved 4 cups chopped rhubarb stalks, cut in 1-inch pieces ½ teaspoon black peppercorns Vinegar—this is the fun part! (See tip)

Mix sugar and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add rhubarb, strawberries and peppercorns. Stir occasionally as fruit releases liquid and returns to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool and strain through a sieve, pressing on solids to release liquid.

Mix 4 parts fruit syrup to 1 part vinegar. Store in the refrigerator.

Space Division

Space Division

Strawberry & Shaved Fennel Salad

Serves 6

Red, white and Waldorf. This is my take on the classic American salad created at its namesake New York City hotel near the end of the 19th century. Crisp fresh fennel stands in for celery while sweet spring strawberries replace fall apples. Toasted pumpkin seeds replace earthy walnuts and a white balsamic vinaigrette offers a lighter alternative to the traditional mayonnaise dressing. So maybe, after all, this has nothing at all to do with a Waldorf salad—but it did provide exquisite inspiration.

This light, crisp, sweet salad is the perfect side for your Memorial Day cookout. Serve it on its own, or over fresh greens like baby spinach or butter lettuce.

For dressing:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅔ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil

For salad:

  • 2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

In a medium bowl, combine shallot, sugar, mustard and vinegar with a pinch of salt. Whisk together. Combine strawberries, fennel, fennel fronds and mint in a separate bowl. Toss together.

While whisking, add oil to vinegar in a thin stream, to form a creamy emulsion.

Taste dressing with a forkful of fennel and strawberry. Season dressing to taste with additional sugar or vinegar as desired and toss with salad. Sprinkle with toasted pepitas and serve.

Tip: Fennel has a hard, white, cone-shaped core. To remove it, quarter the fennel and cut out the core before thinly slicing the more tender bulb.


About the Chef


Jonathan Bardzik is a DC–based storyteller, cook and author. He is self-taught and inspired by the fresh produce he enjoyed from his family’s garden and now finds at DC’s wonderful farm markets, where he gives weekly demos throughout most of the year. His new book, Seasons to Taste: Farm-fresh Joy for Kitchen and Table, is a four-season look at farm- and garden-fresh food and the people we share it with. It follows his first book, Simple Summer: A recipe for cooking and entertaining with ease. Jonathan’s books and original recipes can be found at, along with a calendar of his live appearances.