Lunch is the main meal of the day in France, and traditionally involves an extensive, multi-course meal. If you walk around a French village between 12pm and 2pm, the place will be deserted. Shops, banks, and post offices will all be closed to enable workers a long, leisurely lunch, which almost certainly involves wine. After 2pm, workers return to their jobs, fueled by the obligatory post-lunch caffeine jolt from an espresso-style café.
One thing I have noticed at these wonderful lunches, is that dessert tends to be light and, if possible, will involve whatever fruit is in season. After eating appetizers, a main course, and often a cheese course too, a light dessert is usually appreciated.
Inspired by this tradition, this dessert elevates the classic combination of strawberries and cream, with a balsamic glaze and lemon zest. It is light, flavorful, and every bite tastes like summer. It's the perfect dessert to enjoy after a big meal, when you just want a taste of something sweet and delicious, but nothing too heavy.
Serves 3-4, for a light, summery dessert
- 3 cups strawberries, stems removed and quartered (I used around 24 strawberries)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar
- 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or double cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (the zest of around half a lemon)
- Optional: basil leaves, to garnish
- Prepare the strawberries by removing the stems and cutting the fruit into quarters.
- In a bowl, drizzle the strawberries with the balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with sugar.
- Gently stir the strawberries until the sugar dissolves, and let the mixture rest for 20 minutes so the flavors combine.
- Serve in a small bowl or ramekin, topped with a tablespoon of cream, and a generous sprinkle of lemon zest. Garnish with basil leaves, if you like.
- If you want to prepare this in advance, you can let the strawberries macerate in the balsamic glaze for up to 3 hours, and then add the cream just before serving.
- These glazed strawberries are also delicious served with ice cream, if you prefer.
- If you don't have a balsamic glaze, you can use balsamic vinegar instead, but you will need to adjust the ratios in this recipe to taste. I would suggest less vinegar, and more sugar.