Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fresh Mozzarella with Balsamic Strawberries

Strawberries are delicious when combined with aged balsamic vinegar. The vinegar brings out the natural sweetness in the berries. I relearned this classic Italian pairing while taking a food tour of Boston's North End. Our guide told us that Italians use aged balsamic vinegar to dress berries and fruit. 

For this recipe, the sweet and tangy balsamic berries are poured over soft and creamy mozzarella. The dish is finished with basil. It makes a lovely light lunch or an appealing appetizer.

I used local strawberries from my farmers' market for this recipe. Mild mozzarella cheese is perfect with the sweet and tangy sauce. It tastes like summertime on a plate.

You'll need:
  • 10-12 strawberries, sliced
  • A little more than a 1/4 cup of aged balsamic vinegar, use a liquid measuring cup
  • A pinch or two of sugar or drizzle of agave nectar. The amount you use depends on how ripe your berries are and how sweet you like things.
  • 1 pound ball of freshly made mozzarella. Use the real stuff here. The cheese needs to be fresh and soft for the recipe to work properly.
  • Fresh basil, chopped or torn
  • sea salt or kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

The Rundown:

Slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl.
Place the vinegar and sugar  in a pot and turn on medium high. Boil and reduce down until it becomes sort of syrupy. Toss the balsamic syrup with the strawberries. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.

Place a few slices of  fresh mozzarella on a plate, add the balsamic strawberries and top it off with fresh basil. Finish with a little more salt and pepper to taste.
Viola! An easy, elegant, summertime salad with a bit of a wow factor. Italian simplicity at its best.

Note: Do not dress the mozzarella with the sauce until you're ready to serve it.

Balsamic strawberries are also delicious on ricotta cheese or thick Greek yogurt.  Happy Eating!

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