Strawberry Caprese with Basil Syrup

This is a twist on Insalata Caprese, the ubiquitous tomato, mozzarella, and basil “salad” that often features as a starter when tomatoes are in season. This version, however, is more of dessert-meets-the-cheese-course. The basil syrup called for in the recipe was developed originally for making grown-up sodas.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pint strawberries, tops removed and cut lengthwise into 1/8 inch slices
1 8-ounce ball fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, cut or torn into 1/2 inch bits
1-2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons basil syrup, or as needed
Large crystal salt such as Maldon — about 1/2 teaspoon, roughly
Fresh ground black pepper
2 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded with your sharpest knife
A few drops of basil oil, optional

METHOD:

Carefully toss the strawberries with the balsamic vinegar. Use just enough to flavor them, but not so much that they are drenched. They don’t even have to be covered with it.

Toss the cheese and most of the strawberries together, and then divide amongst 4 chilled plates. Scatter the rest of the berries over the plates.

In a very fine stream, drizzle the basil syrup over the salads. Don’t worry about getting every bit of the salad with the syrup. If you wish, add a few droplets of basil oil around the edges of the plate. Give a light dusting of pepper and scatter a few grains of salt over the plates. Add just a few strands of basil over all and serve right away.

YIELD: 4 servings