I’m often asked for ideas to jazz up teatime but not alienate guests or cause a fall out with the in-laws. Combining fruit with vegetables is an easy way to introduce a bit of an exotic feel without being contrived or having to compromise on flavour or nutrition. We’ve come to the perfect time of the year to have a bit more fun with food. All around us are the bright colours and flavours of produce and gardens reminding us of warmer climes and inspiring us to go bolder! By Arno Maasdorp
Tomato, Strawberry and Basil Salad
• 10 medium ripe vine tomatoes
• 6 strawberries
• 6 fresh basil leaves
• 1 sprig fresh marjoram (optional)
• 1 small red onion
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• Sea salt flakes
• Black pepper
Best prepared a couple of hours before serving or even the night before.
Nothing can be easier than assembling this salad. Cut the tomatoes and strawberries in half lengthwise, and then into 3 so you have long thin wedges. Chop the herbs finely and add to the fruit. Add a teaspoon of flaked salt (this will help draw some of the juices to help make a dressing) and a few generous turns of cracked pepper and mix well. Lightly cover and leave for 15 minutes at room temperature. Add the vinegar and oil and you are done!
The juices of this salad make great shots.
Courgette and Grilled Pear Salad
• 3 Courgettes (yellow or green)
• ½ Block barrel ages feta cheese (optional)
• 1 Firm pear
• Black sesame seeds
• Edible flowers (chive and rocket in bloom on platform 2)
• 125ml Preserved lemon brine
• 2tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 Clove garlic (crushed to a paste)
• 125ml olive oil
1. Slice courgette lengthwise, on a mandolin if you have one, no thicker than a pound coin.
2. Lay flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprinkle with Malden salt and cracked black pepper. Repeat by covering with another sheet of parchment and courgette, not forgetting to season each layer. This should be left in the fridge overnight (or at least 2 hours) for the courgette to firm up a bit like leather. Cut the pear into thin slices, drizzle with a little olive oil and lightly sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Place under the grill until it caramelises, and let it cool.
3. To make the dressing, simply combine all the ingredients and give it a blitz. Depending on the brand of preserved lemons you use, a little sugar or white balsamic vinegar will help balance the tartness of this dressing.
4. Assemble the ribbons of courgette on a plate in an informal manner, add dressing, salt, black pepper and sprinkling of black sesame seeds to garnish.
• All recipes, text ad photography are by Arno Maasdorp
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