It is that wonderful time of year when flower and fruit are suddenly, perfectly, beautifully in sync. Roses fill the streets and clamber up hot garden walls, vying for their moment in the sun, while berries & stone fruit arrive all in a glut, halved in price, filling sunny kitchens and chilly supermarkets alike with their sweet, heady, summertime fragrances.
It is these scents that epitomise the season and make it so special. Early summer, after all, is the only time of year when you can get away with deeply & unselfconsciously smelling punnets of fruit in supermarkets, or leaning into hedgerows to catch a blissful whiff of honeysuckle; to drink in the cool, refreshing perfume of a flawless white rose.
With this synchronicity of flower & fruit seasons in mind, I decided to make a salad that would hero both a punnet of beautiful British strawberries I had in the fridge and the pretty peach rose tree that we recently discovered hiding in the undergrowth in our (rather overgrown & distinctly under utilised) shared back garden.
I picked some greens & herbs from our window sill pots for the salad, and added some feta to act as tangy, creamy counterpoint to the sweetness of the strawberries, but I decided to keep the dressing really simple to just let the darling buds of May do their own fabulously fragrant thing. Unsurprisingly enough, it was utterly wonderful.
STRAWBERRY & FETA SALAD
Delicious served alongside grilled meat or fish and buttery baby potatoes, this salad is a great way of using up leftover or imperfect strawberries. Makes enough for 4 as part of a meal.
1 punnet of strawberries
Handful of asparagus, steamed & blanched
Half a block of feta
Handful of fresh salad leaves
Handful of mint & basil leaves
1 or 2 roses (optional; only ever use garden roses that haven’t been sprayed)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Half a clove of garlic
To make the salad, slice the strawberries lengthways without hulling & lay on a serving plate along with the asparagus stems. Thinly slice half a clove of garlic and spread around the strawberries. Season the berries with black pepper, then squeeze a very small amount of lemon juice over them & drizzle with a little olive oil. Distribute the herbs & greens around the plate, then crumble the feta over the salad and finish with the rose petals. Serve at room temperature.