Something Different
Week of: June 20, 2011
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Welcome Summer with Strawberry Pie

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Will we ever accept fruit for dessert as contentedly as Europeans do? In Italy, where a bowl of fruit usually sits on the dining room table or nearby, I am content reaching for a juicy pear or an orange after dinner. Sitting and sharing conversation while everyone peels their selection and eats it leisurely is probably part of the satisfaction. Perhaps this supports findings that socializing at mealtime contributes to well being as much as serving healthy food.

Returning home, though, I find myself quickly craving desserts that are somehow an occasion. It could be something simple, like a sliced orange sprinkled with candied ginger or cantaloupe slices drizzled with blueberry syrup made from jam warmed with apple juice. It may be due to the often disappointing taste of commercially grown fruit, but I need an embellishment, something extra, that little Martha touch, to be satisfied.

Local strawberries are in season now, joining the usual abundance of giant, glowing fruit from California or Florida. After a friend reminded me of the strawberry socials our grandparents enjoyed, and the luscious shortcake both our mothers served, a buttery biscuit soaking up the juice of halved berries, I resolved to use fresh berries in an equally seductive strawberry delight.

Spotting a whole-wheat graham cracker piecrust at the natural food store, I also reached for cream cheese and sour cream—reduced fat, of course, and a jar of strawberry fruit spread. Lining the crust with a blend of the cheese and cream, I then tossed fresh strawberries with melted fruit spread and heaped them into the pie shell, creating this jewel-bright, blissful result.

Strawberry and Cheese Refrigerator Pie

Strawberry and Cheese Refrigerator Pie

  • 1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker piecrust, preferably whole-wheat
  • 4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-fine sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry fruit spread
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place crust on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. This can be done 8 hours ahead.

Place cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in small bowl. Blend until combined and smooth, using hand mixer on medium speed or wooden spoon. Spread cheese mixture evenly over bottom of piecrust. Refrigerate until set, 1 to 2 hours.

Just before serving, cut off tops of strawberries. Halve largest, prettiest ones and place in bowl. Cut remaining berries lengthwise in quarters and place in another bowl. Melt fruit spread in bowl in microwave, or in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Mix in lemon juice, if using, and divide hot fruit spread between two bowls of berries. Using fork, toss until fruit is coated and glistening.

Spoon quartered fruit into the center of pie over cheese, turning most pieces cut side down as you spread them out. Arrange larger halves in circle around edge of pie, with flat side facing rim of crust and points toward the center of the pie. Spoon on any fruit spread remaining in bowls to fill in open spaces. Serve pie within 1 hour.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 262 calories, 11 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrate,
3 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 219 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

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