This week I’ve created a visually arresting, sure-fire summer streaker, strawberry avocado salad, which will whip it’s clothes off and run across your table whenever you desire.
Summer, Summer, Summertime.
It’s summer. It really is summer. The last few weeks have been spent basking (to be more precise, working) in the high twenties, a level of warmth that had barely graced my skin this year. It took until the third week of August before the weather finally climbed out of bed, yawned and said, “so, what season is it?”.
This summery-ness inspired an insatiable urge to create something tantalisingly summery. I wanted a recipe that felt fresh and bright, something which climbed up to the top floor, took it’s clothes off and ran around screaming “I”M SUMMER!”. Strawberry avocado came in a vision, seeming to be the golden ticket. Strawberries were first on the list, because making a salad with strawberries is an unabashedly summery thing to do. You won’t catch anyone dishing up a lovely, fresh, seasonal strawberry avocado salad in February. If they do, it’ll taste awful, because imported strawberries do and February is not a time to be eating strawberries, unless they’re atop one of those little strawberry tarts from Patisserie Valerie, in which case knock yourself out, 24/7, 365.
What you really need is a batch of peak season English strawberries from mid summer, the ones that require a hearty slurp as you bite into them, surprising you with sweetness that’s always uncertain, never a constant. These are berries that need to have been kept at room temperature for several hours, there’s no use serving strawberries straight out of the fridge, because they’re like cheese, they need time to come to room temperature and reach their peak.
Then came the feta, loading up those sweet berries with the salty tanginess of crumbly, metallic feta, my go-to salad cheese. Avocado fills in the gaps between the strawberry and feta nicely, it’s like the rhythm section, keeping the whole thing ticking over. The most controversial part of this whole ensemble is the balsamic strawberry dressing. The idea of adding more strawberries in the dressing left me wondering if it would really light the fire under this salad. But some bashed up strawberries with just a hint of balsamic and olive oil provide what can only be described as a guitar solo from a lithe, snake hipped, tanned guitarist, high notes harking across the plate.
If all of these combined flavours are a little too much to consider, if you just need to comprehend this salad in more simple terms, then you just need to look at the images. They’re as visually benign as experiencing the Notting Hill Carnival on acid. I’d love to fall back on my usual cliches of ‘punchy’ or ‘brighten up any table’, but the colour goes deeper, on the screen the richness of the different reds and pinks draws the eye quicker than a streaker at communion. This salad is etched onto my retinas for some time to come.
Strawberry Avocado Salad
By Gavin Wren
Serves 4 as a side or starter
2 teaspoons balsamic
2 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of Salt and pepper
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
200g strawberries, sliced
Now lay out the avocado slices on a large plate, or on 4 individual plates. Scatter the crumbled feta across it all, followed by the 200g strawberry slices.
Lastly, drip the sauce across it all, leaving a rich trail of red balsamic dressing across it all. Eat.