Of all the berries of summer, blackberries are the ones that arrive early and stay late into the season. In warm climates, this strikingly beautiful fruit begins producing in late spring, and if the weather is not too hot, will continue throughout the summer. If you’ve grown tired of strawberries and can’t find fresh raspberries or blueberries at the market, there most likely will still be baskets of blackberries.
Blackberries, like blueberries and raspberries, are a super food. They are rich in vitamin C and fiber, but their most desirable healthy trait comes from their dark-blue color, which is linked to high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are considered a natural deterrent to many cancers and other diseases, and there is a long list of wonderful heath effects associated with eating fresh blackberries regularly.
You can use blackberries in both sweet and savory dishes. My recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches with blackberry-basil spread is a great way to showcase the sweet perfection of blackberries.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Blackberry-Basil Spread
12 ounces fresh blackberries
12-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 loaf multigrain bread, Italian ciabatta, sourdough or a French boule, cut into 8 thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or mayonnaise
3-4 ounces of American cheese, sliced
3-4 ounces of fontina cheese, sliced
Step 1. In a large, deep bowl, gently mash the blackberries with a potato masher or a fork, and stir in the chopped basil. Heat an electric griddle or large, heavy non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat for at least 5 minutes.
Step 2. Brush 4 slices of the bread with half of the olive oil and the butter or mayonnaise. On the remaining 4 slices of bread, place a single slice each of the American and the fontina cheese. Top with a few spoonfuls of smashed blackberries. Place the oiled and buttered slices of the bread on top of the blackberries and press the slices together gently.
Step 3. Carefully turn the sandwiches over so that the oiled and buttered side is in contact with the bottom of the griddle or skillet. Carefully brush the top of sandwiches with the remaining oil and butter. Turn heat down to medium low, and let each side cook for about 4-5 minutes to let the cheeses melt and the bread toast. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning author. Her website is www.divapro.com.