Strawberries are a July staple, symbolic of Wimbledon, traditionally served marbled with thick cream and sugar.
Strangely strawberries and tomatoes are almost interchangeable; they both contain a flavour compound called Strawberry Furanone. I once made a tomato salad with cream and sugar for one of my supper clubs (a recipe from the Little House on the Prairie books); in the candle light guests thought that they were eating strawberries!
I’m lucky enough to find small wild strawberries in my North London garden. In France these ‘fraises des bois’ are expensive to buy but prized for their intense flavour with hints of vanilla. I use them to decorate cakes and ice cream as seen in the top picture, a rose and strawberry cake (recipe later).
Below are some alternative recipe ideas for strawberries, which enhance the crisp, juicy yet robust texture and the acidity that underlies the sweetness.
Strawberry, Tomato and Holy Basil salad
- Punnet Strawberries, quartered lengthways
- 400 g ripe tomatoes, quartered
- bunch Holy basil or ordinary basil
- 1 lemon or lime, juice of
- glug olive oil
- sprinkle sea salt
- Assemble the ingredients together, pour over dressing.
Seared sesame tuna with strawberry bruschetta
- 8 slices of sourdough bread
- 50 ml olive oil
- 16 strawberries, sliced thinly
- Small fresh basil leaves
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 4 250g ahi tuna steaks, I used yellow tail
- 50 ml olive oil
- 50 ml toasted sesame oil
- Sea salt
- Wasabi paste, optional
- 200 g sesame seeds both black and white (furikake)
- Salad greens
- Toast your sourdough slices then drizzle a little oil on the bread. Layer on the strawberry slices, add a few tiny leaves of fresh basil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
- Rinse and pat dry your tuna steaks.
- Mix the olive oil and sesame oil together in a small bowl, sprinkle with sea salt. Add the wasabi or horseradish sauce, if you have it.
- Pour the sesame seeds (a mix of black and white looks good or you can buy a special Japanese mix called furikake seasoning) into a plate. Brush the each tuna steak with the oil mixture then press the steaks down firmly in the seed mix, then turn it over so that the other side is covered with the sesame seeds too.
- Prepare your barbecue and frying pan/grill pan; you want it very hot. Once hot, brush the pan with the rest of the oil and press the sesame covered tuna steaks into the pan. Do not cook for long if you like your tuna seared. You just want the edges to be cooked and the centre raw.
- Once cooked to the degree that you like, remove from the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes…the tuna is easier to slice. Spread the slices on a bed of green salad leaves. Serve with the strawberry bruschetta.
Strawberry and Hibiscus soup
- 50 g dried hibiscus flowers
- 500 ml boiling water
- 450 g ripe strawberries, hulled (reserve a few for decoration)
- 100 g caster sugar
- 5 cm fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup
- Soak the hibiscus flowers in hot water and leave to stand for at least a couple of hours or overnight. Then strain the flavoured water into a jug.
- Place the strawberries in a blender and pour in the hibiscus water.
- Add the sugar, ginger and pomegranate syrup. Blend until smooth.
- Garnish with reserved strawberries.