We aren’t entirely sure how to classify this dish... Is it a salad?
Is it a dessert?
Is it a cheese plate?
We don’t know. We really don’t. Do we care?
Nope. No we don’t.
We tried to come up with something that would feature strawberries since we keep seeing amazingly ripe ones floating around these days. We were getting strawberry envy. So we decided to do something about it. We hauled ourselves to one of the farmers markets in Portland and took home some gorgeous Mt. Hood strawberries, dark as rubies, and ripe enough to stain your fingers with their juice. They were small, sweet, and completely melted in your mouth when we ate one (or four).
We put our heads together and applied some knowledge we had that suggested strawberries and tomatoes have almost an identical flavor pairing list. So, we decided to cycle through some of our favorite things to eat featuring fresh tomatoes and see if we could plug in fresh strawberries instead. Balsamic vinegar was the key. What we ended up with was this thing.
We played with two ideas to make this: one tomato centric, one strawberry. Most of the inspiration came from caprese salad, but we opted to use whipped chèvre instead of fresh mozzarella to mimic strawberries and whipped cream. Complete with good olive oil and a thick but quick balsamic reduction, this thing left us speechless. If you play your cards right, it’s ready in five minutes.
Now go get yourself some strawberries, damnit.
- 4–6 achingly ripe strawberries, halved Note: We prefer smaller strawberries for this recipe, but if you can only find larger ones, use about 4 and quarter them instead of halving.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz chèvre
- 1 tsp. milk
- 2–3 basil leaves, chopped
- good olive oil
- freshly cracked black pepper
- sea salt
In a small bowl, mash the chèvre with a fork until it becomes soft, then add the milk. Whip it as best you can until it resembles fluffy cream cheese. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan on medium low heat, reduce the balsamic vinegar until it resembles a syrup. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. Not too long or it will be slow as molasses. (If it becomes too thick, just pour a splash more balsamic in and it should loosen it up a little bit). Set aside.
Plate the chèvre, halved strawberries, and dot the plate with some balsamic reduction. Drizzle the plate with olive oil and finish with the chopped basil leaves, pepper, and sea salt.