Good cooking is as much about restraint as it is about technique. No-one wants over-complicated food when the sun is shining and ingredients are at their peak. Now more than ever should they be allowed to speak for themselves. Salads can be exciting and sexy, full of life and colour, bursting with pops of flavour and textural counterpoints. Here the fragrance of the strawberry contrasts beautifully with the full-fat milkiness of the ricotta, the broad beans give a savoury vegetal edge and temper the sweetness, as does the salinity of the olives. Pine nuts or pistachios are far more summery in inclination than hazelnuts or walnuts, then just a few rocket leaves and basil or tarragon to complete the dish. This colourful assembly would be delicious preceding some meat or fish cooked on the barbecue, or with some grilled focaccia rubbed with garlic and olive oil. Feel free to mix and match things as much as you like. If you have ordered the hamper, some cooked beetroot or halved cherry tomatoes would also be welcome additions. When serving, use a large platter and scatter everything very open-plan rather than mixing it in a narrower deep bowl. It will look far more joyful and inviting.
250g Gariguette strawberries, tops removed, halved
1 tbsp White balsamic or chardonnay vinegar
4 tbsp Olive oil, Alexis Muñoz
4 tbsp Pitted black olives, halved
4 tbsp Broad beans, blanched for 1 min in boiling salted water then drained and refreshed
Pinch Maldon sea salt
Pinch Black pepper
4 handfuls Rocket
75g Pistachio or pine nuts, toasted
½ bun Basil and or Tarragon, ripped into large leaves
- Mix the strawberries with the sugar, balsamic and olive oil, then mix in the black olives and broad beans. If adding cooked beetroot or cherry tomatoes, then add them at this stage too, seasoning them first.
- Take spoonfuls of the ricotta and scatter over a large serving dish then season with Maldon salt and black pepper.
- Spoon over the strawberry/broad bean mix in between and over.
- In the residual dressing in the bowl, toss the rocket then scatter over the plate.
- Finally scatter over the toasted nuts and herbs.
- Serve with grilled focaccia rubbed with garlic & olive oil.