Interview by Dalia Colón
Danielle Rose brought Dalia Colón into her home to talk about Florida’s winter crops. She shared her recipe for Plant City Grove Stand Salad.
While other parts of the country are in a deep freeze, Floridians are reveling in peak growing season. Winter in the Sunshine State brings an abundance of crops ripe for the picking.
That’s particularly true in Plant City, an enclave between Tampa and Lakeland that’s recognized as the winter strawberry capital of the world. The town has become a destination for strawberry picking an all sorts of strawberry-flavored treats. It’s even home of the annual Florida Strawberry Festival.
Of course, the ruby red fruit is just one of many crops in season, as food writer Danielle Rose exemplifies in her Plant City Grove Stand Saladwith citrus poppyseed dressing.
“If you go to a farm stand right now, you can get any kind of greens,” says the Tampa resident, who shares her recipes on her blog, Suwannee Rose. On our visit to her home on Tampa’s Davis Islands, Rose used spicy arugula from her garden. She notes that arugula is easy to grow and takes up little space. Collard greens, which need more room to spread out, are also a good starting point for home gardeners, she says.
The salad showcases in-season fruits and veggies, including greens, citrus and of course, strawberries.
Rose’s quick method for pickling onions lends extra pizzazz to the salad. Store the onions in your fridge, and you’ll also have a handy addition to tacos, burgers and more.
“My absolute favorite thing are strawberry onions,” says Rose, referring to the onion plants that often line strawberry fields—often Vidalias or Walla Wallas. “These onions are protecting the strawberry fields from pests, and they end up being these big, super-sweet onions.”
Strawberry fields that extend seemingly forever are a big part of the charm of a Plant City road trip, Rose says.
“I think that’s one of the prettiest road trips from Tampa,” she says of the laid-back agricultural town about 25 miles east of Tampa. “It just takes a few minutes outside of Tampa, and you’re in a whole new world.”
Of course, no visit to Plant City is complete without a strawberry dessert. Rose is partial to Parkesdale Market, a produce stand that’s renowned for its strawberry shortcakes and milkshakes.
“I just go crazy there,” she says with a smile.