Goat Cheese Pistachio Strawberries
I know... it is not exactly strawberry season here in Wisconsin.
Yet this chilly winter weather has me dreaming of green grass, open windows, and fresh berries. Until those things are a reality I will indulge my desire for spring through some creativity in the kitchen.
This is one of those recipes that I have made over and over... and over... again. I absolutely LOVE it. The flavors of the tangy goat cheese, the salty pistachios, the sweet berry and honey, and the green herb come together to make a little gem that is not too sweet, not too complicated... it's perfection.
However, I have found over the past few years that not everyone agrees with me on this.
A beautiful tray of berries has been sent with my husband to a work gathering and returned to me hardly touched, they have been served at events in my home and garnered uncertain glances from my guests, and they have appeared at family functions only to receive questions and turned up noses when goat cheese is mentioned.
Quite often when a brave soul ventures to actually try these perfect little berries they quickly fall head over heels in love!
They are a bit putsy to make but not at all difficult, and the bit of work that they might take is worth it since you end up with an elegant and flavorful treat.
Most recently I brought a tray of Goat Cheese Pistachio Strawberries to a ministry meeting at church and I was quite proud of my team. Nearly everyone tried and enjoyed the berries. The few that remained untouched were devoured by my husband and I on the drive home from the meeting (seriously, they are that fabulous... I am not even ashamed to admit to you that I did not wait for a napkin and home).
A few tips before you get creative in your own kitchen...
Tip number one: While the berries should be chilled for a bit before serving, in order to firm up the cheese and help the coating stick, do not chill them for too long. The longer the berries sit the softer the pistachios become and after a few hours the texture is a bit "off", still delicious but not quite as appealing.
Tip number two: Do not shy away from different herbs. Basil and strawberries is always a winning combination in my book but I have also made these with fresh thyme. Thyme gave the berries a bit of a hardier flavor that I enjoyed.
Tip number three: To grind the pistachios into the soft powder I find that a small blender is the ideal tool (I use the bullet blender that whips up my smoothies in the morning and it works perfectly for this job). Be careful to not overly blend the pistachios or you'll be left with nut butter rather than a powder :)
Goat Cheese Pistachio Strawberries
Place the goat cheese, chopped basil, and honey into a medium sized bowl. Mash and mix the ingredients together using a sturdy fork.
Pour the ground pistachios into a seperate bowl and set aside.
Scoop out a bit of the goat cheese mixture (about the size of a ping pong ball) and using your fingers carefully press the goat cheese around a strawberry. Leave the green stem and the very top of the strawberry free of the goat cheese mixture (I find this looks prettier when served and allows for guests to easily pick up a berry).
Place the coated strawberry into the bowl of ground pistachios and roll around until well coated (this can get a bit messy but again be careful not to cover the stem).
Line the finished berries onto a serving tray and chill for about 20 min before serving.