strawberry and grilled feta salad

It’s the scent that yanks me back, pinching at my nostrils and dragging me helplessly by the nose. A fat, fragrant double-taker of headiness. The brain doesn’t quite compute at first, because all I’m met with is the gaping maw of a white van spewing crimson viscera onto the road, while a flock of Christian youth rap energetically about salvation. But then I gaze a bit further and there they are in all their scarlet splendour. Punnets upon punnets of them. “3 for a pahnd” bellows the red faced man, and the people jostle and throng with their pounds. Further in there are stalls flogging free range organic duck and quail eggs, the biggest papayas I’ve ever seen, chicken’s feet, goat’s livers, ginseng, mustard oil, fresh shea butter, live crabs, green coconuts and tangerine chillies. However, none of this interests me, for it’s that most English of juicy fruit that I’m after. It feels like the whole of Hackney is here, shopping, shouting and bumping into each other in the sunshine. People hug and argue, they flirt with and avoid each other, they coo over and swear at sullen-faced little ones. There are mountain ranges of rubbish everywhere and an intermingling of other, less savoury smells. Drugs are dealt and hearts are broken. You would never get this in Borough Market.

Back home I think about the flavours that might fit. Because they’re not exactly Gariguettes, I decide that they’d be most at home in a savoury salad, one with plenty of balsamic and black pepper to really flatter the fruit. I decide to team them with some tender grilled feta, watercress, cucumber, parsley and smoked almonds in what turns out to be one of the freshest of summer salads and the beginnings of an infatuation with the chaotic brilliance that is Ridley Road market.


Serves 2-3 generously

1 punnet of strawberries, picked over and halved

1 bunch watercress, torn up

gem lettuce roughly chopped

½ cucumber, diced

1 block of feta

a handful of smoked almonds or walnuts

1 tablespoon parsley, finely

1 orange pepper, diced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling on the feta

plenty of black pepper

1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

3 tsp honey

Small pinch of dried oregano


Sprinkle a little olive oil and the oregano over the feta and brown under a hot grill until tender

While that’s cooling, combine the watercress, cucumber, toasted pine nuts, smoked almonds, orange pepper, strawberries and lettuce in a salad bowl.

Cube and gently mix in the feta

Combine the parsley, balsamic, remaining olive oil, salt, pepper and honey and carefully dress the salad


  1. Absolutely brilliant! Simple is the best, they say and it always is….love the pictures…may give this a go for my lunch soon

    -shilpa x

  2. Balsamic, black pepper and strawberries is such a perfect combination. I normally splosh mine with a little Pimms too but I like this savoury version! Would you recommnend going for a slightly less sweet variety for this, or does the sweetness work well against the saltiness of the cheese?

    • gastrogeek

      Tis a winning combo isn’t it? As these aren’t exactly the posh French ones, I would definitely recommend the less sweet variety (you know the cheaper ones you can get pretty much everywhere at the moment)

  3. You definitely have a bowl of summer there, Rejina! I love watermelon and feta, and this might be a step further!

    Btw, the lamb scewers were fab! Have to make them again soon.. 😉

  4. gastrogeek

    thanks lovely! Am so pleased you enjoyed the lamb too 🙂

  5. Hilary

    Dammit, I read this too late in the day to rush to Waitrose for ingredients – this is a mouthwateringly gorgeous recipe, I will be waiting when the doors open tomorrow at 8.30 am, but will no doubt be paying more than you did for the strawbs !

    • gastrogeek

      Thanks so much H 🙂 It’s certainly no Waitrose, I can tell you! Would love to hear how you get on xx

  6. Love this combination Rej. Usually my fav during the summer months is watermelon with feta & cracked black pepper. Will defo be trying it with strawberries soon. Love the photo!

    • gastrogeek

      thanks M – adore watermelon with anything – there are some proper gigantic ones in the Turkish shops on my doorstep, just wish I was a bit less puny!! I need to get one of those granny shoppers.

  7. Very beautifully written.Like previous commenter I’ve used watermelon and pumpkin seeds with feta,but always looking for different salads I may have to put this on the menu!
    BTW there’s some really trendy granny shoppers on the market at the moment I was looking at some yesterday.

    • gastrogeek

      Thanks ever so much. Do you know of any good websites I can get one from? I used to have a rather natty leopard skin one, but some chieftain nicked it.

  8. Beeeeautiful. Love halloumi with strawbs too. And somehow from your description of the Hackney market, I suspected we weren’t talking Broadway here…

    • gastrogeek

      Awww thanks Salty. And yes, you’re quite right, it’s good old (ahem!!) Ridley Road market. Although I notice even the strawberries there have gone up in price recently. It’s just outrageous.

  9. Ziu

    You would never get this in Borough Market.
    Indeed! Loved your description of the market. Brilliant!

    Yet I’m not a huge fan of strawberries in savoury dishes. Or maybe I’ve just not found the dish that would change that! 🙂

    • gastrogeek

      cheers! Glad you like it 🙂 It does sound a bit odd doesn’t it? But definitely works a treat with the grilled feta

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