Caprese Salad is one of my favourite salads. Usually just fresh, ripe tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled with a good quality extra virgin olive oil. It's a classic, and it's a salad that's meant to showcase the ingredients. Which means they have to be the best you can find. That's why I usually only make a caprese salad when tomatoes are perfectly ripe and in season. Luckily for us, we don't have to look further than my garden in August.
But it isn't August, it's spring. And while it isn't tomato season, it is strawberry season. So I'm making a strawberry caprese salad. Did you know that strawberries are at the top of the Environmental Working Group's “Dirty Dozen” for 2017? That means that conventionally grown strawberries measure very high in pesticide residues. These pesticide residues remain even after washing. Which is a good reason to buy organic strawberries. Check out the EWG website If you want to see the whole “dirty dozen” list, as well as the “clean fifteen”.
This year, we have decided not to grow strawberries. Because the birds always get them. We wouldn't mind sharing, but the damn birds always take one bite out of each strawberry, instead of just eating the whole berry. Then the deer munch on the rest. We've tried all kinds of methods to deter the wildlife. We've put up fake birds of prey, used netting, tried shiny pinwheels. The birds are too smart to be fooled by any of those things. Whoever came up with the phrase “bird brain” hasn't met these ones.
Not growing our own strawberries means we have to buy organic if we want strawberries. Luckily they are easy to find, if a little more expensive. This salad is delicious with fresh strawberries in place of the tomatoes, and I used a peppery balsamic reduction to complement the sweetness of the strawberries.
- 1 cup dark balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 cup bite sized bocconcini balls
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- In a sauce pan, bring balsamic vinegar, pepper, and salt to a boil
- Reduce heat to medium and allow to boil gently until reduced by two thirds, whisking frequently.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a salad bowl, combine strawberries, cheese, and basil
- whisk olive oil into the cooled balsamic reduction.
- Just before serving, drizzle salad with the balsamic mixture
Caprese salad is best served at room temperature