These Balsamic Strawberry Crostinis are the perfect Valentine’s Day recipe or date-night treat. Made with crispy crostini bites, topped with creamy ricotta, juicy fresh strawberries, and a drizzle of tangy balsamic glaze, your appetizer game just got ten times better.
There are some flavor combinations out there that are undeniably out-of-this-world. Peanut butter and jelly is a classic example, but there are also so many more elevated options – such as strawberry and balsamic vinegar.
Strawberries are naturally sweet and juicy, while balsamic vinegar tends to be tangy and quite acidic. When the two are combined, the vinegar helps to bring out the sweetness and flavor of the strawberries, while the strawberries help to mellow out the acidity of the vinegar.
This Balsamic Strawberry Crostini recipe achieves that perfect balance of sweetness and acidity that will take your meal to the next level. This combination has become an elegant pairing in both sweet and savory dishes, such as strawberry balsamic salad, strawberry balsamic ice cream, and even grilled chicken with balsamic strawberry salsa.
It’s a go-to flavor profile of mine because it’s so simple to achieve and people go nuts over it!
My journey with creating recipes came from a desire to make healthy eating fun. Food is medicine and sometimes that means fueling your body with the right nutrients. Other times, it means having fun and relishing in the beautiful flavors out there.
This easy crostini recipe is one of my favorites for when we host friends or family at our home because you don’t have to be the next Iron Chef to create it, and yet it tastes and looks so fancy. It’s also a great appetizer to whip out for those last-minute party crashers! Plus, you won’t need to dirty too many plates or utensils since it makes great finger food.
The best part about this Balsamic Strawberry Crostini recipe is that it only takes five ingredients: strawberries, balsamic vinegar, lemons, brown sugar, ricotta, and a baguette or pre-cut crostini.
How to Make Balsamic Strawberry Crostini
With such a simple recipe, your ingredients are the key players.
Since we’re not doing much to alter the strawberries in this recipe, I highly recommend finding in-season strawberries! They are typically in season during the late spring and early summer months, with their peak season varying depending on the location and climate.
However, once you try this crostini recipe, you’ll want it year-round, so I wouldn’t blame you for getting off-season strawberries. The lemon zest added to the recipe will help add that burst of freshness you need!
Using frozen strawberries could prove to be a bit soggy or difficult with this recipe, so try to avoid using those if you can.
We’re going to create what’s called a “balsamic reduction,” which is a thickened sauce made by simmering balsamic vinegar until it reduces and thickens into a syrupy consistency.
In this recipe, you’ll add brown sugar to add some sweetness and balance out the acidity. However, you can use a balsamic reduction in other recipes – such as salads or meats – and flavor it with other ingredients, such as garlic or herbs, to create different variations of the sauce.
The best type of balsamic vinegar to use for this Balsamic Strawberry Crostini recipe is a high-quality, aged balsamic vinegar.
Aged balsamic vinegar can be more expensive than what you might typically find in the grocery store. However, it’s so worth it if you can find some! They have a more complex flavor profile due to the aging process, which can take up to 12-25 years.
However, if you don’t have aged balsamic vinegar, you can still make a delicious reduction with good-quality balsamic vinegar from the grocery store.
In this crostini recipe, we’re only using lemon zest. So, make sure you have good-quality, sharp instruments to get the zest.
Be sure to choose a fresh, firm lemon with bright yellow skin and only grate the yellow part of the skin, avoiding the white pith, which can be bitter.
As mentioned earlier, the balsamic reduction in this recipe needs some sweetness to bring out the natural caramel-y flavor of the vinegar and add some depth to the syrupy consistency you’ll create.
You’ll notice that using the brown sugar will slightly alter the color of the reduction, which is totally fine. If needed, you can also use sugar alternatives like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and others. However, keep in mind that it will change the flavor of the reduction.
Ricotta cheese is a great, neutral cheese to layer on top of your crostini. It provides a mild flavor that pairs well with the strawberry and balsamic reduction. The best part is the creamy, soft texture it provides which contrasts beautifully with the crunch of the crostini bread.
If you’re not a fan of ricotta or want something with a stronger flavor, you can use a creamy goat cheese! Non-dairy alternatives should also work just fine in this recipe.
Lastly, you have your crostini bread. The best bread for this Balsamic Strawberry Crostini is a baguette or ciabatta bread, which are both crusty and have a dense texture. I like to use a baguette because they are easy to slice and toast.
Sourdough bread is also a good option. Either way, it’s best to use bread that is a day or two old, as it will be sturdier and hold up better when sliced and toasted. I’d recommend going to your local grocery store and seeing what they have in the bakery for fresh-baked bread options.