The Italians have it down right. Strawberries with balsamic vinegar is a classic recipe from a region in Northern Italy famous for its balsamic vinegar. It might seem odd to use vinegar in a dessert, but adding a bit of acidity generally makes the taste of a fruit shine (for instance, adding a bit of citrus juice). In this case, the balsamic vinegar adds just the right amount of complexity to make for an amazing flavor combination. And adding a bit of cracked pepper gives just the right amount of zing. If you’re a bit wary of this combination, you’ll just have to taste it to become a believer!
We first saw this idea from Jack Bishop in The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. His recipe uses the traditional white sugar to macerate the berries, but a local podcast turned me on to the idea of trying maple syrup to sweeten the berries (thanks to chef Daniel Orr for the idea!) The maple syrup version won out hands down in our taste test – the syrup made for a much fresher taste that highlighted the berries beautifully. (Plus, opting for natural sweeteners like honey and syrup in favor of sugar has made our taste buds more attuned to the natural flavors!)
Greek yogurt with a bit of honey is my favorite for a fresh and simple summer dessert, so I chose it as an accompaniment for the berries. You also could serve them with vanilla ice cream, gelato, cream, or whatever suits your fancy!
Balsamic Strawberries with Greek Yogurt
Inspired by The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook
What You Need
2 cups strawberries (1 pint)
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
15 ounces Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
A few mint leaves
Fresh ground pepper
What To Do
1 For the berries: Wash the strawberries and slice them. In a small bowl, mix the berries with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Let sit (macerate!) for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Prior to serving, add a few grinds of fresh pepper.
2 In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt and about 2 tablespoons honey, or more or less to taste.
3 Chiffonade a bit of fresh mint.
4 To serve, place a dollop of the yogurt in a bowl. Top with berries and mint.