Strawberries are not just for Eton Mess. This savoury squid salad with strawberries combines spring flavours of Spanish strawberries early English asparagus, cool cucumbers and a zingy dressing.
There’s more to strawberries than Eton Mess.
Strawberries in salad aren’t new to me, or to this blog. Indeed a couple of years ago I made a strawberry salad with scallops (NKA app lovers, it’s also in there) and I’ve now been inspired to push the boundaries again.
Last week I attended an event at David Muñoz’s Street XO restaurant in Mayfair, where strawberries were celebrated in style. A real feast of strawberries as they appeared in every bit of the five course sampling meal. A real party of flavours and interestingly a fusion of Spanish and Asian cuisine developed by Madrid native David and his team.
British strawberries aren’t quite in season yet, so we used strawberries from Spain, since they are at their best right now. Whilst you know I love celebrating local or British produce where possible, I see no reason why we can’t from time to time borrow things from our almost neighbouring countries. Perhaps borrow is not the right word, they’re not having them back.
Spanish strawberries used to get a bad rap, but actually we learned at the event that in recent years the Spaniards have worked to develop the quality and taste of their strawberry crops using an established British breed. Strawberries grow from January to April in Spain, and take around 45 days to grow, in comparison to 60 in the UK, mostly due to the differing climate.
At Street XO some of the flavour combinations were on paper, totally crazy; From strawberry hoisin sauce to accompany Pekinese dumplings to strawberry gazpacho served in a young coconut with sweet and sour tomatoes and black truffle. Even our dessert which included a more acceptable strawberry white chocolate combo was served in quite an unordinary way.
However it was the squid dish that left me most inspired, likely because we had the chance to watch and help our chef prepare the dish. The dish was a combination of grilled squid with strawberries, sour and spicy hibiscus dressing, fine herbs, and lime pesto. There was some shredded green papaya in there too, which took on the flavours of everything around it.
So, in the aftermath of that strawberry party, I was inspired to create something using some of the flavours of this incredible dish, but simplified for my home kitchen. For my squid salad with strawberries I’ve chosen to add English cucumbers as well as brown rice vermicelli instead of papaya as they are easier to get hold of and like papaya are watery and let the rest of the dish shine. English asparagus has come early this year and I decided to also add that to the dish! Since squid carries quite a sweet flavour already, the hit from the lime in the mixed herb and chilli pesto is just what it (and the strawberries) need for a rounded dish. A very happy combination all round.
You may notice there are no squid tentacles in my dish, because sadly I was only able to get hold of squid rings instead of the whole thing. If you have a chance, do seek them out whole. The tentacles are most definitely the best crispy bit!
- 30g pistachio nuts (or you could use almond or cashew)
- 15g coriander leaf
- 15g basil leaf
- 5g mint leaf
- 2g fresh red chilli, minced (or more if you like)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 large juicy lime, and extra for garnish
- 8 tablespoons / 120mls olive oil
- salt to taste, start with ½ teaspoon
- 50g brown rice vermicelli noodles
- 100g asparagus spears, ends snapped off and trimmed, and sliced in half
- 2 small squid (around 200g), cleaned, and sliced into thick rounds
- 100g strawberries, hulled and diced
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut with a julienne peeler or spiralizer.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- First make the pesto. Place all the ingredients into the food processor apart from the oil and blitz until the herbs start to break down. keep the motor running and pour in the olive oil until everything just comes together. Taste and adjust salt or lime juice to balance the flavours. Add more chilli if you want more heat. Scoop out and set aside.
- Next prepare your rice noodles according to packet instructions. The ones I use require being covered in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes until soft. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
- Meanwhile heat a griddle pan over a gas flame and add some olive oil. Toss in the asparagus spears and cook until lightly charred, it will take a couple of minutes, remove and set aside. Next season your squid with salt and pepper and then add to the hot griddle pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the squid is no longer translucent and has taken on some colour. Remove and set aside.
- Now you're ready to plate up. Start with the brown rice and cucumber noodles, scatter over the strawberries then top with the squid and the asparagus. Dot over the pesto and serve with a wedge of lime.
What would you do with savoury strawberries?
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Disclaimer: This post and recipe was commissioned by Seasonal Berries