In a world of processed food choices, it's always tempting to just grab a packaged or frozen option and save all the prep time that comes with making a fresh meal. Lately I've been trying to cut down on packaged products and eat more things that are based around fresh foods. Usually the best way for me to encourage myself to put in some extra prep time is to make things that I'm really excited to eat so it's something I look forward to. I'm a total sucker for a caprese salad (especially when I have big pots of fresh basil growing on my porch). So I thought it would be a nice change to add some strawberries and pesto sauce for a twist on the more traditional version!
10 oz of cherry tomatoes
4 oz of mozzarella pearls
1/4 bottle of balsamic vinaigrette
For pesto sauce:
1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves
1/8 cup pine nuts (or sunflower seeds without shells)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
To make a balsamic reduction, add your vinaigrette to a nonstick pan and heat over high heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally, and let vinaigrette thicken to your liking (the liquid will be about half the volume you started with when ready). Drizzle the reduction onto the bottom of your plate or bowl and add your caprese salad on top. Garnish with a basil leaf or strawberry, and you're ready to serve!
If you refrigerate the pesto, the cheese can separate a little. So this dish is best served right away. I love the bright taste of the pesto with the saltiness of the cheese and sweetness of the berries and tomatoes. And once you get a little swipe of the reduction onto your fork as well, it becomes a little taste of heaven! So if you are looking for an easy recipe to add more fresh fruits and veggies onto your plate, I would definitely recommend this one—you'll be glad you did! xo. Laura
Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.