Strawberries are the luscious start to spring and summer’s bounty of gorgeous, juicy fruit. Chefs greet their arrival with creative juices flowing.
“I’m not sure if there is a more luxurious fruit than a strawberry. Who can resist strawberries and champagne, strawberries and chocolate (or) strawberries and very vanilla whipped cream?” said chef Todd Richards of the Cafe at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.
This recipe was created by Richards, who finds that using medium strawberries instead of large ones gives the syrup a more concentrated flavor.
This is the second year the salad has been on the menu at the cafe; Richards finds his clients enjoy the salad for breakfast in place of a regular fruit plate.
In the photo, the salad is garnished with tiny basil leaves and peanut brittle.
Ritz-Carlton Buckhead’s Strawberry Salad
2 cups water, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
12 medium strawberries, rinsed and stems removed
Zest of 1 lemon
4 large basil leaves, divided
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup toasted salted peanuts
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and cool 30 minutes. Add strawberries, lemon zest and 3 basil leaves. Refrigerate 4 hours. Strain the strawberries from the syrup and refrigerate berries. Strain syrup to remove zest and basil.
Place half the sugar syrup in a small saucepan. Add balsamic vinegar and remaining cup of water. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and cool. Pour mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 4 hours. Reserve the remaining sugar syrup for other uses (it makes a great base for cocktails or mocktails). Strawberries and ice can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.
When ready to serve, cut reserved strawberries in half and place them in a serving bowl. Roll remaining basil leaf like a cigar and slice into thin ribbons. Sprinkle slices of basil over strawberries. Remove frozen balsamic mixture from freezer and use a fork to scrape mixture into fine pieces. Arrange ice over sliced strawberries, garnish with peanuts and serve immediately. Serves 2.
Per serving: 449 calories (percent of calories from fat, 34), 9 grams protein, 71 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 18 grams fat (3 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 299 milligrams sodium.