Friday, May 30, 2014

Strawberry Caprese Salad - Seasonal Eating

One of my favorite blendings of flavors and ingredients is Caprese Salad. I love the flavors of the basil and the balsamic vinegar with the fresh produce. I think the way each flavor stands on their own and yet blends perfectly with the others is pure food magic. 

So when I found this recipe for Strawberry Caprese Salad, I could hardly wait to try it. I adore it with tomatoes and I love strawberries and balsamic vinegar reduction, so how could this salad recipe fail. It was going to be a wildly successful food experiment! 

Strawberries are at the peak of the season right now and that makes them not only inexpensive to buy, but at their most delicious and flavorful. I was able to find my strawberries for $1.50 each! ( I went back and bought two more just to eat plain after I made the salad. - the kids have already demolished one of them). 


3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (8-oz.) tub fresh small mozzarella cheese balls
4 cups halved fresh strawberries 
Garnish: thinly sliced fresh basil


Whisk together white balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, brown sugar, salt, and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Add 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and mozzarella cheese balls; toss to coat. Cover and chill 2 hours. Stir in strawberries; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over fresh arugula or as an appetizer with toasted French bread baguette slices. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil.

The dressing is just a quick whisk of ingredients. Feel free to season it more to your taste if you think you need to add a little more sugar or if you prefer a little more garlic. 

Some of my berries were a little large and so I cut them into quarters instead of just halves. I think it looks nice if you can get a few strawberry pieces into a bit instead of one giant piece that you have to cram into your mouth. Plus that means more surface area for that delicious dressing to cover and seep into. 

At my local market I am able to buy fresh herbs in a plastic clam shell. I think most mega-marts carry them this way now and so you should be able to access fresh herbs even if you don't grow them in your backyard. I pick all the leaves off the stems and stack them in a pile. I try and arrange them from largest on the bottom to the smallest on the top. Then your roll the leaves up and slice them into really thin ribbons. This is called Chiffonade, and it is a great technique to add to your kitchen skills.

Then just toss your sliced strawberries and your basil ribbons into the same large bowl that you made your dressing in. Then I added some fresh mozzarella pearls. ( but you can use a fresh ball in the large size and just dice into in pieces and then add that to your salad) I think the pearls are super adorable and who doesn't love little tiny balls of cheese!?!

I served it with some french bread, but you could also serve it on a baguette like a crostini. I used the bread to sop up all that delicious dressing that was left behind. This was an fantastic success and if you love either caprese salad or strawberries I highly recommend that you try it. It is different and refreshing and the sweet strawberries are just another complimentary flavor in a beautiful symphony of flavors.