Lent is over.
And today marks the last meat-free Friday until next year. Glory hallelujah!
It’s funny because I don’t really consider myself a dessert person, which is precisely why I gave it up – it’s something I love to have a few times a week, but I’m not the kind of person who needs a cookie or piece of chocolate every single night. Plus it’s a heck of a lot better than giving up white flour, which I stupidly chose last year.
I was diligent about my dessert sacrifice. I said no to fancy cupcakes. Warm-from-the-oven cookies. I passed up my favorite lemon meringue pie. Jealously watched as my girlfriends downed skinny cheesecake and fancy s’mores on Bachelor nights. I even baked a cake for Kevin that I didn’t touch.
I was strong.
But lord am I glad it’s now over. It’s funny how much you want something you can’t have. Tonight I plan on having nutella dessert pizza. Sunday, lemon meringue pie, strawberry rhubarb pie and my favorite Greek butter cookies. And next week, I have my heart set on making a few over-the-top desserts to share with you here.
Until then, this Strawberry Caprese Salad with Brown Butter Balsamic Vinaigrette will have to suffice.
While it’s not exactly peak strawberry and tomato season, we’ve been lucky and had a plethora of perfectly ripe berries and tomatoes go on sale locally, so lucky in fact, that I snatched up a 2 lb crate of strawberries the other day for $2.99, something you rarely even see during the summer months.
Day after day I downed them like they were popcorn kernels (plus, no dessert makes a girl crave something sweet), but after day four, I honestly got kind of bored (also something dessert deprivation will do), so I did the next best thing — threw together a salad.
Caprese salad is always something I look forward to in the warmer months, and although I adore the classic version, I love putting a different twist on it depending on what produce is available at the market and of course, lingering within the depths of my fridge.
The combination of cherry tomatoes, strawberries, diced mozzarella and basil isn’t a flavor combination that’s particularly earth shattering, but pair those ingredients with an insanely delicious brown butter balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a game-changer.
Not only do I want to slather this brown butter balsamic vinaigrette on everything from salads, to grilled meats, to warm veggies, but I literally want to slurp it up with a spoon — which I may or may not have already done.
Brown butter acts as the fat in the dressing instead of the typical olive oil, but other than that, the ingredients are pretty straight-forward — balsamic vinegar, a little bit of honey, dijon, salt and pepper. Because butter does solidify after being melted, you really want to make the vinaigrette and then quickly dress the salad, or you could also make it ahead of time and pop it into the microwave for a few seconds to re-melt the butter. Also, when you drizzle the warm vinaigrette over the cold strawberries and tomatoes, some of it will harden, which to me, was even better, because each bite had a concentrated flavor of brown butter — something that’s seriously irresistible to me.
Serve with charred ciabatta bread, some grilled chicken and you’ve got yourself a pretty fancy meal.
Have a lovely Easter all!
- 2 cups sliced strawberries (cut them in a variety of sizes)
- 1½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
- Salt & Pepper
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- Toss strawberries, tomatoes and mozzarella together. Spread on a platter.
- In a small skillet, melt butter over a medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to bubbly and turn slightly brown on the edges, swirl the pan in a circular motion until the butter is browned and smells nutty. Remove from heat and transfer to a small dish to cool until room temperature.
- In a small ramekin or bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, honey and dijon together. Slowly whisk in room temperature butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over salad mixture. Sprinkle with basil leaves.