Black pepper strawberries with goats cheese and walnut salad
Earlier this year, we visited the red rock town of Sedona, known for its mysterious spiritual vortexes and "transformational energy", on our desert tour of Arizona. While I didn't feel any particular mystic forces while in Sedona, I was rather captivated by a leafy strawberry salad we ate for lunch at a local pizzeria. You will want your strawberries perfectly ripe and sweet for this salad. If your strawberries are not at their peak, add a little more sugar and perhaps a tiny drop of balsamic vinegar to tenderize them. if you have yet to try black pepper with strawberries, you'll be surprised by this unlikely perfect union.
Black pepper strawberries with goats cheese and walnuts
serves 3-4 as a sharing dish
350g sweet, ripe strawberries, trimmed
1 tsp sugar
3 tightly packed cups (75g) baby spinach, baby rocket (arugula) or salad leaves
50g goats cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup (50g) blueberries
1 cup (100g) toasted walnuts, crushed
sea salt and lots of black pepper
Strawberry honey vinaigrette
2 large ripe strawberries
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp honey
1 small shallot, finely sliced
sea salt and black pepper
Cut the strawberries in half or quarters, depending on their size; a variety of shapes and sizes is great. Add the sugar and a generous grind of black pepper; toss to coat and allow everything to macerate for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette. Quarter each strawberry and squeeze out the juice – the easiest way to do this is to push the strawberry pieces through a fine sieve, catching the juice in a small bowl. Discard (or eat) the pulp. Whisk together the strawberry juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey and shallots, until well combined. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Put the salad together by placing the leaves in a large serving plate. Add the macerated strawberries (including all the juices in the bowl), goats cheese, blueberries and spoon over the vinaigrette. Toss everything to combine. Taste, and season with sea salt and black pepper. To serve, scatter with chopped chives and walnuts.