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An Illustrated Cook's Calendar - July

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Pick Your Own

Growing up in rural Herefordshire, we'd always visit Pick Your Own fruit farms in the summer and fill up our empty ice cream tubs with warm fruit. Obviously this involved eating a good many berries along the way, going back to pay for them with suspiciously red stained mouths and splodges on our t-shirts. Berries warmed in the sun, straight from a field or plants in your garden are always the best - but as they're in season in the UK even the supermarket ones taste good at the moment.

I remember my mum making jam with the fruit we picked - once she accidentally made 'pouring jam' as it didn't actually set properly, but we poured it on top of ice- cream like a sauce. Strawberries and cream, or with meringues as a pavlova or Eton mess are always favourites at a summer party - but after the sugar fest last month with the recipe for Elderflower Cordial, I've gone for something more savoury this time.

Change It Up

This would also be nice with watermelon, and with the addition of edamame beans. Edamame beans are sometimes hard to find, (or very expensive in tiny cartons in Marks and Spencers), but you can find them in the frozen section in many supermarkets. You can also use frozen soya beans, or baby broad beans.

What exactly is the difference is between frozen soya beans and frozen edamame beans (when shelled and not in a pod) ? I'm not sure - I've bought frozen soya beans from Tescos and they tasted pretty much the same to me. But I'm no edamame expert... and it's taken quite a few goes to type the word 'edamame' correctly.

This recipe is based on one from - obviously you can take out the sesame seeds and pine nuts if you or your friends have nut/seed allergies - or add toasted hazelnuts or slivered almonds instead if you don't. Bizarrely the original recipe doesn't actually mention feta in the ingredients, but from looking at other feta salad recipes, use around 100g of feta, or more if you want it cheesier. A normal sized packet seems to be around 200g. Feta lingering around the fridge always gets a bit crusty after it gets cut - and the brine leaks out - so just chuck it all in! Alternatively you can get pre-cut feta in tubs. I like warming the feta so it turns golden. You can also substitute rocket/watercress or a bag of mixed leaves for spinach, and raspberry/strawberry vinegar for balsamic.

Feta & Strawberry Salad

  • 200g strawberries, at room temperature

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 2 tbsp pine nuts

  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar/raspberry vinegar

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tsp honey

  • sea salt/black pepper

  • 80g washed spinach/rocket/watercress

  • Packet of feta

  • Basil leaves

  1. Hull and cut the strawberries in quarters. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Crumble the feta over a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Place in the oven for 10 minutes until golden, then turn the pieces over. Scatter with the sesame seeds and pine nuts, and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, stirring once, until everything is dark golden (but not burnt!)

  2. Whisk the vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large salad bowl. Add the strawberries, salad leaves and whole basil leaves, and turn in the dressing before scattering over the feta, seeds and nuts, and turning briefly again before serving.

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