It’s strawberry season – one of my favorite times of the year – and I’m going to feature some recipes from the N.C. Strawberry Project, a collaboration between N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute and Johnson & Wales University. This one combines strawberries with slices of fresh mozzarella and tops everything with a surprising mint pesto drizzle.
Chef Mark Allison, dean of culinary education at Johnson & Wales, and some of his students have created several recipes such as Strawberry Feta Salad with Prosciutto Chips and Strawberry-Cucumber Salsa with Grilled Swordfish (which I made with scallops instead). But this Strawberries and Fresh Mozzarella with Mint Pesto Drizzle grabbed my attention because the combination of flavors seemed strange enough to work. And it did!
I often substitute part-skim for whole milk mozzarella, but in this case, I thought the acidity of the balsamic vinegar needed the creaminess of the full-fat cheese. I also prefer whole milk cheese if I’m eating “raw” slices in a dish. The amount of saturated fat in this recipe is on the high side so, if you are concerned, reduce your serving size or have more strawberries and less cheese.
This recipe is a bit high in calories for a dessert you’d eat after you’ve already consumed 400 calories or so at a meal. It did make a perfect lunch, however. If you want to serve it as a dessert or a side, I’d recommend reducing the serving size.
Leftover Mint Pesto?
If you run out of strawberries and cheese before the mint pesto is gone, here are a few ways to use it. Do not, for any reason, throw it out!
- Toss some with grilled or roasted vegetables.
- Drizzle it on steak or chicken.
- Stir some into leftover brown rice.
- Serve with lamb in place of mint jelly.
- Mix some with zucchini noodles.
Strawberries and Fresh Mozzarella with Mint Pesto Drizzle
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves
- ¼ cup almonds sliced
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- ½ clove garlic
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese ½-inch slices
- 1 pound ripe strawberries sliced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar ½ tsp per serving
In a food processor, combine the olive oil, mint leaves, sliced almonds, Parmesan cheese and garlic.
Divide the mozzarella and place the slices (overlapping) on each serving plate. Spoon ½ cup strawberries around and on cheese.
Drizzle ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mint pesto over the cheese and strawberries on each plate. Garnish with mint leaves.
Watching fat? Eat more strawberries and less mozzarella. You could also substitute part-skim mozzarella, but it won't have the same mouthfeel.