Life Table Talk

Monday 22 September 2014

Irish strawberries can help you stay looking young

Soaked with anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and skin plumping vitamin C, Irish strawberries can help deter the aging process.

Susan Jane White

Published 30/06/2014 | 02:30

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A new dog food recipe is made with fresh strawberries
A new dog food recipe is made with fresh strawberries
Susan Jane White

Think of berries as beauty bullets. Soaked with anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants and skin-plumping vitamin C, strawberries can help deter the pesky ageing process. And increase your chances of a Helen Mirren-ish bikini moment.

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Local strawberries are in full swing. Stock up while they last. They’re very low on the glycemic index, so a punnet a day won’t turn blood-sugar levels wonky.

Lately, I’ve been consumed by Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus, published by Bloomsbury, which suggests treating strawberries like tomatoes. What about a salsa tonight, with diced avocado, lime, coriander leaves and strawberries?

Or try Wexford’s best, with buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil; or tickle a juicy, big strawberry punnet with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and black pepper. So weird, but so right.

Isabel Allende recommends doing all sorts of, ahem, creative things with strawberries in her book, Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, published by HarperCollins.

Another favourite aphrodisiac of Allende’s is chilli. This unassuming red spice gifts us with immediate heat and a delicious “sense of urgency”. Warning: this gazpacho combines them both.

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Smoked Chilli and Strawberry Gazpacho

Serves 6.

We already know the devious effects of chilli on our body — stinging lips, a raised temperature and a torrent of happy endorphins. Combine them with the sweet juiciness of strawberries, and we’ve got ourselves a situation. No need for a caffeine fix today — this gazpacho will blow open your senses.

You will need:

250g (9oz) (1 punnet) cherry tomatoes

250g (9oz) (1 punnet) strawberries

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

½ cucumber, diced

3 spring onions, sliced

500ml (1 pt) tomato passata

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Ice cubes, to serve

Basil leaves, to decorate

First, take the greens off the tomatoes and the strawberries. Using a high-speed blender, blitz the crushed garlic with the cherry tomatoes and the strawberries. Then let the diced red pepper, the diced cucumber, the sliced spring onions, the tomato passata, the lemon juice, the smoked paprika powder and the cayenne pepper join the party.

Pulse briefly. You’re looking for a soupy salsa, not a smoothie.

Chill the gazpacho in the fridge for at least two hours, before spooning it into six shallow soup bowls. If the gazpacho seems too thick, or if it starts to separate into layers, give it another belt in the food processor before pouring it into the soup bowls. Tickle each bowl of gazpacho with some fruity extra-virgin olive oil, some ice cubes and a few basil leaves. Radically fabulous. 

Susan Jane will be sharing some treats and kitchen secrets at the Hay Festival in Kells, Co Meath, next Saturday, July 5. Tickets are €6 each, and can be booked online, see www.hayfestival.com

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