Sweet and tart strawberries and tomatoes are jewels of the summer season. Perfect as they are, ripened and plump, they can be transformed with a sweet and spicy scotch bonnet vinaigrette for a light summer lunch or as an accompaniment to a grand feast.
Before you gasp and choke on your tomatoes, this isn’t a recipe suggesting you eat a scotch bonnet. This is a great way to ease into using these ‘frightening’ peppers and bringing a taste of Africa into everyday cooking. I love using them not just for their heat but for the fruity and complex flavours that can be derived from different methods of cooking.
I shared this recipe on the BBC ‘Cook On The Books Show’ on BBC Sussex & Surrey, where I am lucky to be invited ever so often. See facebook live video here.
The first time I made this salad was three years ago for a Menswear fashion press dinner. This was also soon after I started supper clubs in Nigeria.
I remember the addition of strawberries was rather unique to many guests especially as strawberries are not typical in the West African diet. When not imported, they are grown as special produce in the geographically unique city of Jos, in the middle belt of the country. Like the Isle of Wight of England with temperate conditions, this is also where the best tomatoes are grown.
My favourite thing about this combination is the striking balance of flavours. The sweetness and tartness of the fruits, the acidity of the balsamic, the sweet heat of the scotch bonnet with a dash of salt and pepper, married into a dish that makes perfect sense.
After a slight tingle on the lips, your taste buds will be filled with freshness, sweetness, and warmth. A very pleasant surprise. If you joined me at ‘Taste of Africa’, my demonstration and tasting session, sharing sumptuous African food at Shoreditch House in London, you know what I am talking about. This was different from my usual super club where I cook and food is served. At this event, we had a large table of food, some of which I had prepared in advance, others cooked in front of the guests, many of whom were happy to help with the cooking and most of all with the eating!
If you missed this event, you are in for a tingling surprise. I’ll be serving it at supper club this Saturday in Eastbourne, as a canapé in red chicory cups and at Shoreditch House again on 9th September. If you have not, you can subscribe to my mailing list for special invitations. This time we will have African drummers and dancers to entertain us while we feast!
Cooking and feeding lovely guests at Taste of Africa in SHOREDITCH HOUSE, London
Happy people with happy tummies!
‘TASTE OF AFRICA’, Live demonstration and feast at Shoreditch House with strawberries, scotch bonnets, tomatoes, raspberries, moringa, chocolate, selim peppers, grains of paradise and suya West African nomad spices.
Everyone tucking in!
Strawberries & Scotch Bonnets in oil
Try this delightful salad at home and make it your own with goats cheese, garlic croutons, crusty bread, your favourite green salad and or as a side to a roast, grill or a barbecue. I do love this with cod!
Let’s get cooking!
Strawberries and Tomatoes with Scotch Bonnet Balsamic Vinaigrette Vinaigrette
For the scotch bonnet vinaigrette
2 Medium Scotch Bonnet Peppers
120ml olive oil
80ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
80ml Balsamic vinegar
½ tsp Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
400g Cherry Tomatoes
- To make scotch bonnet vinaigrette, pour 120 ml of olive oil into a small sauce pan and place on low heat.
- Wash, cut the scotch bonnets and place into the oil, stir well to cover the peppers in oil.
- After 10 minutes or once the oil starts to bubble, press onto the peppers to release its seeds and stir gently. Take the saucepan off the heat, and allow the oil to cool completely.
- Once cooled, add 80ml of extra virgin olive oil, 80 ml of balsamic vinegar, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous measure of freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour into a jar, using a funnel for neatness, cover tightly and shake vigorously. If you have not got a jar, then take out the scotch bonnets from your saucepan and whisk thoroughly, returning the scotch bonnets into the vinaigrette afterward.
- Drizzle onto your salad and keep the remaining vinaigrette with the cooked scotch bonnets in a sterilized glass or jar with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. (There is a lot of advice on sterilizing jars online, and please refer to the instructions of the jar company of your choice.)
To assemble the salad
- Wash your fruits separately and thoroughly in order to get rid of soil residue usually present on strawberries. I usually place them in a colander and wash under cold running water.
- Cut the tomatoes and strawberries into quarters and place into a wide bowl.
- Pour the dressing onto the fruits and toss to coat properly.
- Wash the basil and oregano leaves, tear roughly and add into your tossed fruits.
- Serve with your choice of bread or salad greens.
Cook’s Tip: Use bird’s eye chilli if scotch bonnets are difficult to find. I usually serve this with chicory, for it bitter-sweetness and crunch. The sweet, tart and spicy flavours of the salad also work wonderfully with roasts and a variety of other salad such as avocado and cucumbers. This is a vibrant salad that you can make your own!
If you have tried this recipe, please share in the comment box below, your thoughts, special tweaks and your favourite accompaniment for it. You can also tag me on social media including #leratolovesfood