June 4, 2010

Balsamic and Black Pepper Strawberries with Warmed Toasted Mozzarella Flatbread

Here is a great play on contrasts, with some delicate soft mozzarella and a piece of toasted warm flatbread, all smothered in some strawberries which have been macerated in a lusty sweet balsamic reduction.  It is such a great combo with those super-sweet strawberries enhancing the savory mozzarella and flatbread.  Oh my Yumminess is all I can say.  I will add that this is a heavenly match to wine.

This is a super way to impress your guests for a summer alfresco lunch or dinner or a teaser starter.  The flatbreads can be toasted in your oven, or even out on your grill if you are cooking the rest of your meal outdoors.  

Wine Pairing: A dry Rose' will compliment every flavor note in this dish.  

Balsamic and Black Pepper Strawberries with Warm Toasted Mozzarella Flatbread
An Andrea Immer recipe
Serves 6 as a first course or light main course

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar Reduction* (see recipe below)
Course, freshly ground black pepper for grinding over the flatbreads
Six 6-inch flatbread rounds (whole wheat or white)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Coarse sea salt to taste
5 small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese (about 2-inch in diameter)
5 fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or preheat your grill to medium.  Combine the strawberries, vinegar, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl (non-reactive) and let stand at room temp for at least 5 and up to 30 minutes.

Brush the flatbreads lightly on both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Place on a baking sheet and heat in oven for 2 minutes to soften; or, place flatbreads directly on the heated grill for 2 minutes to soften and toast slightly.  Remove, cut in quarters, and return to the baking sheet.  

Slice the mozzarella into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Layer 3-4 mozzarella slices on the toasted flatbread quarters, and return to oven until the cheese is puffy, about 2 minutes; or, place flatbread quarters directly on the grill and close the lid until the cheese is puffy, about 2 minutes.  The cheese may get a few toasty-brown spots, but watch carefully to prevent over-browning.

Meanwhile, finely chop the basil leaves and stir gently into the strawberries.

When the flatbread quarters come out of the oven or off the grill, spoon the strawberry mixture over the cheese and serve immediately. 


*Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Makes 1/2 cup

1 cup balsamic vinegar (not aged)

Place the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the vinegar is reduced by half.  Pour into a nonreactive container and let cool completely.  
This reduction will keep for up to a month, covered in the refrigerator.