Fresh and seasonal strawberry balsamic vinaigrette
Strawberries are at their sweetest right now. They’re perfect for munching on by the handful and for taking centre stage in your summer bakes, nicecream and smoothies. But did you know they also work wonders in savoury dishes? As the key flavour in this strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, for example. This quick and easy vinaigrette pairs strawberries with just a few savoury ingredients, resulting in a tart and full-flavoured dressing that will elevate any salad and make you want to lick your plate afterwards.
I wish I could take credit for coming up with the wonderful idea of combining strawberries and balsamic vinegar into a vinaigrette. Alas, that culinary hero wasn’t me. A quick browse will show you a lot of different versions of strawberry balsamic vinaigrette singing around the internet and it’s not hard to see why. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are made for each other. They bring out the best in each other in cakes and desserts and they do so in this savoury vinaigrette as well. The balsamic vinegar intensifies the flavour of the strawberries, which in turn lend a tart sweetness to the dressing that will instantly bring summer to your plate.
So here is my version. A quick blend of fresh strawberries, balsamic vinegar, a bit of olive oil, some mustard and shallot, a sprinkling of salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper. The shallot works suprisingly well with the strawberries, adding a touch of freshness as well as depth of flavour. The mustard in its turn adds body to the dressing and makes sure it stays nice and emulsified.
For an extra deep strawberry flavour, you could roast the strawberries in the oven before blending them with the remaining ingredients. To do so, spread them in a single layer over the bottom of an oven dish lined with baking paper. Roast them in the oven at 220°C/425°F for 20-30 minutes, until the strawberries release their juices and turn soft and caramelised. Then whizz the roasted strawberries and the juices from the dish with the remainning ingredients as you would in the recipe below. The resulting vinaigrette will have a slightly darker and sweeter flavour than the one made with fresh strawberries.
In my opinion, both of these versions are delicious. An advantage of the vinaigrette made with roasted strawberries is that for this version you could use frozen strawberries as well, which means that you could also make this dressing when strawberries aren’t in season. As in my book nothing beats the tart sweetness of fresh strawberries, now that they are in season I save myself the roasting time and use them for this vinaigrette in their raw glory. It’s a matter of personal taste, so choose which version suits you best!
This dressing is wonderful combined with additional summer flavours in my summer salad with grilled peaches and homemade basil croutons. But it will add zing to any salad with mixed leaves, fresh herbs and crisp greens, so experiment and enjoy!
Strawberry balsamic vinaigrette – makes about 1¼ cup / 300 ml
- 1 cup / 150 g fresh strawberries, halved
- ¼ cup / 60 ml balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup / 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. agave syrup
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a high bowl, a blender or in the bowl of a food processor. Using a hand-held stick blender or the blender or food processor, whizz everything into a smooth, pretty and pink emulsion.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Use, preferably on the same day, to dress any kind of green salad, or try it combined with my summer salad with grilled peaches and homemade basil croutons.
Store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.