“Is it okay if Hailey has a couple of strawberries from your garden?” My sister asked. My adorable niece turned around and grinned up at me, twinkling robin’s-egg-blue eyes, tousled blonde hair, and red juice staining her chin. Another telltale streak ran down the front of her yellow tank top.
“I guess it better be, huh?” I laughed. Inside, my heart swelled. My garden is finally at the place where it lures little ones (in the most non-creepy way) with its perfectly-ripe veggies and berries, and they can’t help but pluck and snack to their little hearts’ content.
That exact moment is when I realized that’s why I grow this garden. When a little one sneaks through that picket gate and just has to nab a few berries to dine on right then and there, that’s success. Even if they have to dig through the weeds now and then to find them.
Ah, strawberries. On the west coast, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, we’re a bit behind the curve on what’s in season. Only this past week or so have we been pleasantly surprised by perfectly shiny, red-orange orbs in our gardens. U-picks are finally opening, and Friday’s CSA box came with two big containers bursting with perfect, just-picked strawberries.
So naturally, I’ve been dreaming of strawberry recipes.
The first time I made this sandwich, I simply sliced a few fresh-picked strawberries and layered them with brie and basil. That sandwich was excellent in and of itself (and I recommend it), but ultimately I decided the strawberry-and-brie combo could use a bit more oomph. So I marinated some sliced strawberries in rich balsamic vinegar and did it all again.
Yes. Yes, yes.
I adore this sandwich in “slider” form – little slices of baguette encase creamy melted brie, zippy marinated strawberries, and a couple of strands of vibrant basil. The brie melts around the strawberries and the perfect balance of salty-sweet-tangy keeps you wanting more, more, more.
Plus, as sliders, they’re perfect party fare. Can you imagine happening across a tray of these at a twinkly summer evening party? I’d think I’d gone to heaven. Unless, of course, I’ve snuck off to their garden to nab a few fresh berries instead.
Not that I would ever do that.
Balsamic Strawberry & Brie Grilled Cheese Sliders
- 1 cup about 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 baguette (cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 12 slices total))
- Approx (3 tablespoons butter, room temperature)
- 4- ounce wedge of Brie cheese (cut into 1/4-inch slices)
- 3 - 4 fresh basil leaves (cut into strips (chiffonade))
- Place sliced strawberries in a small storage container and pour the balsamic vinegar over the top. Toss gently with a spoon and cover (either use an airtight lidded container or cover tightly with plastic wrap). Allow to marinate for at least 4 hours, or up to two days.
- Butter one side of each piece of bread. Lay bread buttered side down and cover every other piece with a single layer of brie cheese. Use a slotted spoon to remove the berries from the vinegar, and press three or four slices into the brie on each sandwich. Sprinkle each with two or three strands of fresh basil. Top with a second piece of bread, buttered side up.
- In a large frying pan or on a griddle over medium-low heat, cook the sandwiches, flipping often and flattening them gently with the bottom of the spatula, until they’re golden-brown on the outsides and the cheese is melted inside, about 10 minutes total.
- Serve immediately.
More melty-gooey-good grilled cheese recipes:
- White Pizza Grilled Cheese – for-real deliciousness.
- Artichoke Arugula Pesto Grilled Cheese – yesss.
- Spinach & Artichoke Grilled Cheese – like the classic dip, only better. Proof that’s possible!
- Chipotle Butternut Squash & Pepper Jack Grilled Cheese – spicy!
- Cranberry, Pear, & Brie Grilled Cheese – perfect for using up leftover cranberry sauce. (Make extra sauce so you have an excuse!)
- And even more grilled cheese sandwich recipes – 32 melty, gooey, savory, fruity, and just plain over-the-top grilled cheese sandwiches.
- How to Make a Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich – because basic is never bad! Here’s how to do it just right.
Do More with Strawberries
Grow your own strawberries – you won’t regret it (Sunset Magazine) :: Find a local farm where you can pick your own strawberries – pounds and pounds of ’em! :: Whip up a perfect glass of fresh strawberry lemonade :: Or go for a beverage with booze – make some refreshing White Strawberry Lemon Sangria :: Make this stunningly gorgeous Spring Berry Salad with Lemon Verbena Vinaigrette (Oh My Veggies) :: Or bake a batch of hearty whole grain strawberry banana bread (Simple Bites)