With dark and chilly winter nights now a distant memory, it's time to embrace the long, warm summer days and make the most of the abundance of British-grown fruit available at this time of the year. Not only are strawberries, sweet and delicious - they also provide a nutritious, vitamin-rich basis for a lot of super recipes!
Succulent Strawberries: Fact File
* British strawberry season tends to run from May-October. However, these days strawberries are available in supermarkets all year round, with winter fruit being imported from Israel, Egypt and Morocco.
*It is believed that strawberries were first grown by the Romans as early as 200BC. In the 16th century, they were sold in straw cones, making them one of the earliest pre-packed foods.
* Strawberries contain high levels of vitamin C and iodine which aid the immune system, brain function and help keep our hearts healthy.
*If you suffer from high blood pressure, strawberries can help. With a high magnesium and potassium content, they can help to reduce blood pressure as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
A Recipe To Try - Indulgent Strawberry, Basil and Mascarpone Tart
Serves 8 ( adapted into British measures from The Gourmet RD)
* 130g old-fashioned rolled oats
* 85g salted butter, cubed
* 2 tbsp. honey
* 90ml cold water
* 10g granulated sugar
* 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice if preferred
* 680g strawberries, hulled and sliced
* 120ml single cream
* 225g mascarpone
* 2 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 tbsp. honey
* A pinch of fresh basil & mint to garnish
1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 170 °C/gas 3-4. Place oats, butter and honey in a food processor. Pulse while adding one tablespoon of cold water at a time, until the mixture forms a dough. Remove tart dough and place in an ungreased 12-inch tart tin. With your fingers , press the dough into the pan, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is crispy and browned on the edges. Allow to cool.
2. For the strawberry filling: In a bowl, mix sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar.
3. To make the whip: Using a hand mixer, whip the half and half until fluffy. Add a dollop of mascarpone at a time until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla essence and honey until incorporated. Mixture should be smooth, creamy and stiff like whipped cream.
4. To assemble tart: Fill cooled tart shell with ¾ of the strawberry filling. Top with mascarpone whip and garnish with remaining strawberries and the basil and mint. Remove tart from the tart pan, slice and serve.