The past week has been a whirlwind to say the least. Travel, sick baby, high fever and a catered event for 25 to pull off. Somehow it all came together, and we are, at last, back in our own home where everyone slept well last night.
In the spirit of busy times, I will be brief and leave you with a treat I first put together last summer. I was inspired after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with the book club gals and made an appetizer that was sourced completely from the farmer's market aside from the oil and vinegar.
It's a crostini topped with arugula, strawberries macerated in balsamic reduction and topped with crumbled feta. It's basically a salad that I love put onto a little slice of toasted bread. There's something magical that happens when fresh, ripe strawberries -- the kind that bleed a deep red syrup when sliced through -- meet balsamic vinegar. The sweet, tangy combination delivers five-star flavor by way of Top Ramen skills. It's really that simple. Slice them and toss them. The trick to balsamic is simply that if you're on a budget, buy a middle-of-the-road variety and reduce it to concentrate the flavor.
Crostini Topped with Arugula, Balsamic-Macerated Strawberries and Feta
5 oz arugula
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 cup crumbled feta
Thinly slice baguette on the bias and brush one side of each slice with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 oven for about 8 minutes or until bread is slightly golden and toasted. This step could also be done on a grill. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a gentle boil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and reduce by about half and cool completely. Slice strawberries and combine with cooled vinegar for about 30 minutes. Toss arugula lightly with olive oil and salt. To assemble place a few leaves of arugula on each crostini. Top with macerated strawberries and crumbled feta. Serve immediately.
Note: The crostinis can be made several hours ahead of time and stored (once cooled) in an airtight container. The balsamic can also be reduced ahead of time. Simply combine strawberries and vinegar just a bit before serving and assemble when ready to eat.