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Savoury and Sweet Strawberries
 
Strawberries are one of
 nature’s lollies and plucking plump red ones off the little bushes in the middle of summer is simply a delight. Many children grow up having never tasted organic strawberries that are freshly picked from the garden, so if you haven’t got any planted yet, get a couple of big pots and start now.
 
It’s not easy to improve on the simply perfect strawberry, but if you have a glut of them this month (you wish!!!) here are some of our 
favourite concoctions, both savoury and sweet.
 
Strawberry, Watermelon and Fetta salad
 
This recipe is inspired by the gorgeous salad served at Sean’s Kitchen near the Adelaide Casino, one of our
 favourite ‘special occasion’ restaurants. There they add halved heirloom cherry tomatoes, which you can add to this salad as well.
Ingredients (for 4 people):
  • 2 cups 1cm cubed watermelon
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • approx. ¼ cup fetta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • ½ - 1 tbs balsamic glaze (Jarmers is a good one)
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves or shredded mint leaves, whichever taste you prefer
 
Method:
  1. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, and balsamic glaze.
  2. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, toss gently with the dressing, and serve!
 
 
Strawberry and cucumber salad
Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  •  450g strawberries, quartered
  • A few lovage or young celery leaves
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Method:
  1. Pare the skin from the cucumber with a potato peeler; discard some and chop a little to decorate.
  2. Toss all the ingredients together, add a pinch of salt and serve.
  3. This salad can be beautiful if decorated with a few violas,
    if you have some that are clear of chemical sprays.


Strawberry and avocado salad

Gentle, rich and velvety, avocado enhances strawberries almost in the same way cream does. Meanwhile, basil, salty 
cheese, and a lemony dressing balance their sweetness in this beautiful salad. Serves two.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
  • 1 small avocado
  • 100g strawberries
  • About 6 large basil leaves
  • A little parmesan, or hard, matured goat's cheese, very finely shaved
For the dressing
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
  1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, and taste – it should be a little sweet and a little salty and have a hint of acidity from the lemon juice, so adjust as necessary.
  2. Peel and de-stone the avocado, and slice the flesh lengthways into slices about 1cm thick at the outer edge. Arrange on a plate and spoon over a little dressing.
  3. Hull the strawberries and slice them thickly. Arrange over the avocados and spoon over a little more dressing.
  4. Tear the basil into small pieces and scatter over the salad.
  5. Use a potato peeler to shave a few very fine, translucent curls of Parmesan over the salad, add a trickle more dressing and a grind of black pepper, and serve.


Pasta with raw tomatoes and strawberries

The combination of strawberries with tomatoes can be a real winner. They seem to be natural partners, sharing both a 
colour and some flavour characteristics. To make strawberries sing in a savoury dish, you need something salty and piquant alongside, hence the olives and Parmesan.

Ingredients (for 4 people):
  • 500g cherry tomatoes (or any flavoursome tomatoes)
  • 200g strawberries, hulled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75g black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • About 10 large basil leaves, shredded
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 350g pasta shapes, such as small penne or orrechiette
  • Parmesan or hard goat's cheese to serve

Method:
  1. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces – quarters for small cherries, similar-sized pieces for larger ones – and put in a large bowl.
  2. Cut the strawberries into similar-sized pieces and add to the bowl with the garlic, olives and chilli, half the basil and the oil. Add a little salt and pepper, and mix gently. Set aside somewhere fairly cool, but not the fridge, for an hour.
  3. Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt well and add the pasta. Cook for the time suggested on the packet, then drain.
  4. Combine warm pasta with the tomato and strawberry mixture. Season to taste, then serve, scattered with the remaining basil and a few shavings of cheese.


Classic Eton Mess

I once had some meringue bits left over and decided to crumble them up in a bowl with some whipped cream and strawberries, a sort of messy pavlova.  The mixture sat in the fridge for 24 hours and to my surprise, the meringue turned into marshmallow!  Only recently did I find out that this combination mash up is an English classic called Eton Mess – quite a silly name, like Toad in the Hole or Spotted Dick or Bubble and Squeak.
But incredibly delicious, especially the next day if it lasts that long.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 450g strawberries, quartered
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 ready-made meringue nests, broken up (or make your own - see bottom of this article)
  • 400ml double cream, softly whipped
 
Method:
  1. For meringues, preheat the oven to 120C/250F/gas ½.
  2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  3. Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until the mix is shiny and thick.
  4. Put heaped dessertspoons of the mix on the baking tray, leaving space between them (you should get about six blobs).
  5. Put the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 90 minutes to two hours, until the meringues are crisp on the outside and lift easily away from the baking paper. Leave to cool completely.
  6. Whip the double cream with the sugar until it is soft and thick - do not whip it too long, as you don't want stiff peaks.
  7. Break the meringue into chunks and stir into the cream.
  8. Put half the strawberries into a bowl and crush gently with a spoon or fork so some of their juices are released. Mix into the cream and meringue mixture.
  9. Divide the mixture into four glasses, or a large trifle bowl if you prefer.
  10. Put the remaining strawberries on top as a garnish with a couple of mint leaves.
 
A nice finish is to drizzle a sweetened fresh raspberry puree over the top.
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