Raspberry, date and lime salad
This sounds unexpected but is very simple and rather special. The flavors – sharp lime, tangy-sweet raspberries, and fudgy dates – nicely span the sour-sweet spectrum. I love the fleshy, juicy, sticky and chewy textures too.
1 teaspoon runny honey
4 fat Medjool dates (or similar), pitted and sliced into thick strips
Put 100g of the raspberries into a bowl with the honey and the juice of ½ lime. Mix them together, crushing the raspberries with a fork or spoon to release the juices. Leave to macerate for 10–15 minutes to draw the juices out of the fruit, then rub the mixture through a sieve, so you have a tangy-sweet raspberry coulis.
Put the remaining whole raspberries in a bowl with the sliced dates.
Take a little slice off the top and base of the whole lime. Stand it on a board and use a sharp knife to cut away the peel and pith, leaving you with a skinless fruit. Working over the bowl of raspberries, slice out the little lime segments from between their membranes and drop them over the salad.
Add the red raspberry coulis, stir gently and serve
VARIATION: Orange swap
This salad is also delicious, and a little sweeter, if you substitute 1 large juicy orange for the 2 limes.
Pineapple with muscovado sugar and allspice
I love the Caribbean feel of this simple fruit salad, which is sweetened with dark, treacly muscovado sugar, spiked with lime and seasoned with peppery allspice.
A fresh pineapple that you’ve sliced yourself will give you the edge on flavor – and it takes only a moment – but you could use one of those little pots of prepared fresh pineapple pieces.
250g peeled and cored pineapple flesh (about ½ medium pineapple)
Juice of 1 lime
4 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar
A pinch of ground allspice
Cut the pineapple into fairly even 4–5mm slices (if it isn’t already) and arrange over two plates. Squeeze the juice of the lime over both plates. Sprinkle the sugar over the pineapple, then dust each plate with a pinch of allspice and it’s ready to serve.
VARIATIONS: Boozy/peppery pineapple
For a slightly more grown-up and even more Caribbean taste, replace the lime juice with 1 tablespoon dark rum. You could also use a grinding of black pepper instead of, or as well as, the allspice
This dish combines two of my very favorite summer ingredients in the easiest possible way. It looks beautiful and tastes heavenly. Fresh, young elderflower heads (those with just a few flowers still unopened are the most deliciously perfumed) can usually be harvested from mid-May to late June – the variation below gives you a later season option
25g caster sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
8–10 large, just-picked heads of elderflower
Hull the strawberries then slice them thickly – 3 or 4 slices per berry – working from top to bottom. Put them in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice, turn very gently together and leave in a cool place to macerate for about half an hour. Layout the now-juicy berries on a large platter in a more or less single layer, making sure you pour over any juice left in the bowl. Put the elderflower heads, flowers down, on top of the berries, agitating them very gently as you do, to help them release their fragrant pollen into the berries.
Leave to stand for another hour, giving the elderflowers a twiddle and a push into the strawberries every now and again. The contact between the upturned flowers and the juicy strawberries will be enough to transmit their heady muscat aroma into the fruit.
Bring the dish to the table with the elderflowers on – they look so pretty – then remove them and dish up the strawbs.
VARIATION Cordial version
Later in the summer, when the elderflower blooms are gone, you can prepare a version of this dish by adding 1 tablespoon elderflower cordial to the macerating strawberries
Mango with lime and chocolate
This easy fruity treat looks dramatic and tastes decadent. Perfectly ripe, fragrant mangoes are essential.
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
15g coconut oil (raw or odorless)
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lime
2 large mangoes
Break up the chocolate into small pieces and put into a small heatproof bowl with the coconut oil and lime zest (not the juice). Set over a small pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, and leave to melt, stirring once or twice until smooth. (Or you can heat the ingredients directly in a small pan over low heat if you’re very careful!).
Peel the mangoes using a veg peeler or a small paring knife. Slice the flesh away from the stones in large pieces, then cut into slices. Arrange on four plates. Spritz over the juice of the lime, then trickle over the still-warm chocolate sauce in lavish ribbons. Tuck in straight away.
Add a few curls of fresh coconut flesh to the mango slices before pouring over the chocolate sauce.
Apple with basil and pine nuts
I’ve borrowed from the flavors of a classic pesto here (minus the garlic and cheese of course!). The subtle aniseed flavor of basil makes it a fantastic herb to use with fruit and sweet little toasted pine nuts add a satisfying crunch. This makes a nice breakfast salad and can also be served with or after a cheese course.
2 medium eating apples, such as Cox’s or Ashmead’s Kernel
A pinch of caster sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
About 12 large basil leaves, shredded or torn
25g pine nuts, lightly toasted
A trickle of extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil, to finish (optional)
Peeling the apples is optional (I don’t), but quarter them, remove their cores, then slice them fairly thinly into a bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice and most of the basil. Toss together.
Arrange the apple and basil mixture over two plates. Scatter with the pine nuts and the remaining basil. I like to finish this with a trickle of extra virgin oil, for a touch of pepperiness. Eat straight away.
VARIATIONS: Nut and herb swaps
Try swapping in some roughly chopped almonds or walnuts in place of the pine nuts. Mint also works well instead of the basil. And, if you don’t have any herbs or nuts to hand, a simple salad of sliced apple dressed with lemon zest and juice and a trickle of honey is pretty good too.
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