Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, whether I had a Valentine or not. Of course as a young child, no one really has actual boyfriends or girlfriends to spend the day with or buy presents for. You just make a super cute Valentine shoe-box, dress head to toe in pink or red, pick out the girliest valentine to give out to your class, and hope and pray all of those same classmates give you one in return. If you’re lucky you get to have a party in your classroom, chatter about who gave who what, eat some sweets and call it a day.
For me the fun didn’t end at school, my brother and I would come home and my parents would give us Valentine’s Day gift baskets full of everything from candy to jewelry to movies. Sadly, (but not for me!) to this day, my brother and I still get Valentine’s Day gifts from our parents, although the basket is now replaced with a Nordi gift card to support my shopping addiction.
While I love the presents, flowers, and candy that this love holiday brings, the part that I look forward to most on Valentine’s Day is all the amazing food and sweets I get to eat – without feeling even the slightest bit guilty.
Growing up we almost always celebrated the actual night with my parents, so after we tore through our gift baskets we would occasionally go to a nice restaurant just the four of us, but more than often we would stay in to cook up huge four and five course meals with grilled filet mignon, heaps of steamed crab legs, cheesy potato gratins, and homemade crème brulee or chocolate molten cakes for dessert.
Being a grown-up is no exception, I still make sure to partake in every aspect of the holiday, from the flowers to the food. But since Valentine’s Day falls on a week day more than not, I usually prepare a fancy but easy meal the day of and then Kevin takes me out to a nice dinner over the weekend. And while I still haven’t settled on a menu for the big day yet, I do know that I will be serving these love-worthy strawberry and goat cheese crostini as a precursor to our meal.
Of course we all know, (I think) that strawberries and goat cheese are a match made in heaven, but an even greater match made in heaven? Balsamic basil strawberries and goat cheese – which could possibly be my favorite flavor combination at the moment, maybe even more than blue cheese and bacon, if that’s even possible.
Can we just pause for a second though and take a look at the adorable heart-shaped measuring spoons my Grandma and Grandpa got me for an engagement gift?? So cute.
Although strawberries aren’t at their prime season right now, the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar facilitate in bringing out the juiciness of each strawberry, so much so, that they almost become even juicier and sweeter than at the height of summer. The basil chiffonade and pepper that are added to the macerated strawberries add just a touch of savoriness to the dish, and prompt that little voice in your head to wonder what on earth that indistinguishable taste is.
Assembly is simple. Goat cheese is slathered on to crispy crostini and the strawberries are decoratively layered across. Sprinkle with a little bit of extra basil and this easy and elegant appetizer is complete.
- 2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons basil, cut into a chiffonade (plus more for garnish)
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- ½ baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine strawberries, vinegar, sugar, basil, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl. Let set for 30 minutes to an hour.
- In the meantime, place crostini slices on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until slightly crisp about 8 minutes. Let cool.
- Spread goat cheese on toast and then layer balsamic strawberries over. Sprinkle with more basil.