You know it’s summer when those bland, pale, and tasteless strawberries of winter get replaced with those sultry, red sweet berries of summer on supermarket shelves. If you get your berries at the farmer’s market, expect another level of peak flavor and ripeness. I often get so excited I end up buying too much, because the farmers always give me a good deal. Yes I will take that $18 half flat of strawberries over a dinky $8 pint in the supermarket thank you very much!
The same goes for all of the stone fruits. Whether nectarines, peaches, apricots or plums, I buy bags of them knowing wistfully they won’t be around for long. Then the inevitable happens. My family ends up with more fruit than they can possibly eat, so I find new inventive ways to serve up the fruit. Fruit jams, crumbles, and pies are all delightful, but savory recipes are great for adding new and unexpected flavors without excess sugar. Herbs like basil and mint bring out complex undertones of the fruit often missed in a sugary pie. Cheeses offer a creamy, rich and satisfying counterpoint to the juicy fruit. A finishing touch of alternative fruit based glazes or syrups surprise the palate even more.
With these additions in mind, I developed two summer mediterranean appetizers that utilize strawberries and stone fruits for easy entertaining. Try these recipes for your July 4th barbeque, or enjoy as a light dinner or even dessert. Strawberry Bruschetta with fresh basil, balsamic glaze and goat cheese is an addictive combination of sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy. Grilled apricots filled with a lemony honey mascarpone and mint get a nutty and colorful boost with pistachios. You can use peaches or nectarines instead of apricots, and I also enjoy this as a light dessert alternative to cheesecake.
Once you get your ingredients together and finishing grilling–these appetizers take 3 minutes to make. I realize no one wants to toil in a sweltering kitchen this time of year. Better to spend that time enjoying yourself with friends and family than worrying about food baking in a hot oven! To see the easy technique, click on my new video below, and if you want to see more Mediterranean style appetizers, please let me know in the comments!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing
- 1 loaf crusty bread, thickly sliced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze, divided (you can find this at Trader Joes)
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 8 ounces soft goat cheese
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Brush the bread slices with olive oil, and place on a grill until toasted on both sides. You can also bake them in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Combine the strawberries with 1 tbsp of the balsamic glaze, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine and allow to macerate for 15 minutes. Once the toasts are browned, spread with goat cheese, top with the strawberries, sprinkle with the basil, and drizzle the balsamic glaze. Serve immediately
Grilled Apricots with Mascarpone
- 6 apricots, halved and pitted
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for brushing the apricots
- ⅓ cup mascarpone
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 tbsp chopped pistachios
- 1 tbsp honey, date syrup, or pomegranate molasses, for drizzling
Brush both sides of the apricots with olive oil, and put on an indoor or outdoor grill for 5 minutes each side. You can also broil them in the oven for 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the mascarpone, lemon zest, and honey. Once the apricots are done, place a tbsp of the mascarpone mixture in each one. Sprinkle with the pistachios and fresh mint. Drizzle with honey or molasses and serve