For some, this is an unexpected combination of ingredients that often leaves people wow-ed. At first they say, "Strawberries and goat cheese? I don't know..." But every time I watch them take their first bite, I see the transition from against it to for it take over their face, except for the true goat cheese haters out there....sadly they do exist...
Strawberry Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
130 g fresh goat cheese (without skin) room temperature
20-25 g mild honey
400 g strawberries -cut in cubes
6 T butter
160 g ciabatta -a total of 8 thin slices (day old bread works well here)
12-16 basil leaves -julienned thin (about 4-6 t in total) plus some left whole for garnish
1 t minced shallots (super fine)
1 t slightly aged balsamic vinegar
8 t extra virgin olive oil
Cut the strawberries in nice medium-sized cubes. You want them not too small otherwise you won't recognize that they are actually strawberries. Place in a bowl. Add the julienned basil, minced shallots, olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Lastly, add a little salt and pepper. Mix and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.
In a kitchen machine or by hand, mix the goat cheese, honey and the s&p. You want it to be well incorporated and the honey sometimes doesn't fully mix in as well if you're using a machine. It can get stuck to the bottom and not mix it into the cheese. It can also often become gooey in texture when mixed hard. If you want it to harden a bit up after mixing, you can leave it in the fridge for a while or just make it in advance. Otherwise, mix it gently. I like all forms of texture with this style of goat cheese, because it pairs well with the strawberries regardless. And the gooey version reminds me of epoisses cheese from the Burgundy region of France. Those textures together are quite cool.
In a warm/hot heavy bottomed pan, cook your thinly sliced bread in the butter in batches until each side is golden brown. Set each one on a paper towel to cool once finished. Ideally, you want both sides golden brown, but often after flipping the butter has been mostly absorbed by one side and therefore can be less golden. As long as the second side is no longer soft, you're golden. Pun intended...
To plate, spread the goat cheese on each piece of toast (being careful that it doesn't ooze through all of the holes in the ciabatta if it's the gooey version). Place two pieces per plate at an angle on top of each other. Then spoon over 1/4 of the strawberry mixture on each plate.
I added some chervil for a fancier. I was looking for pea shoots, which would be marvelous here look but using more basil leaves will do nicely. Enjoy!
*tip 1: If you do not like goat cheese, try a feta, a ricotta or mascarpone (go easy on the honey with this one, it's already a bit sweet....)
*tip 2: If you don't want the bruschetta to slide around on the plate, add a bit of the cheese underneath it to act like a glue, thus keeping it in place.