The summer’s here, and the summer means strawberries. There are many ways to use them, apart from the ever-wonderful lusciously red slivers drizzled with cream. They go surprisingly well with pepper, basil, and in salads and savoury dishes, expanding their versatility beyond cakes, desserts and preserves. So I’m sharing a way of maximising the seasonal bounty beyond sweet creations, which also means getting more of this beautiful berry’s nutritional benefits by adding them to more meals.

Strawberries, like all brightly coloured fruit and veg, are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids, that fight inflammation. Inflammatory states and oxidative stress have been implicated frequently in the development of a number of diseases, from cardiovascular disease to cancer, with strawberries cresting the charts for their variety of beneficial compounds and high levels of vitamin C, folate and manganese.

Get your strawberries every time you have a salad with this simple dressing, combining natural partners strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Chop a few up and add them to a leaf salad too, making this dressing (and the salad) sing even more!

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing (makes around 300 mls)

A sterilised bottle or jar
250g strawberries
200 mls white wine vinegar
75 mls balsamic vinegar
50g sugar (vary according to how sweet you like the dressing)

In a bowl, mash the strawberries well with a potato masher or fork to create a juicy pulp. Heat the vinegars and sugar in a pan, keeping the heat low while the sugar dissolves, and then bringing to the boil. When boiling, pour into the bowl with the strawberries, and set aside to infuse for at least 24 hours. Strain through a sieve, pressing down gently to extract all the juice, leaving the pulp in the sieve. Bottle and enjoy. For stronger flavour, leave for up to 2 days, or for a thicker consistency, simmer after sieving to reduce the volume of liquid. Experiment and have fun!