If you are a fan of balsamic vinegar, you really owe it to yourself to try making a reduction. Those little bottles of balsamic glaze you can buy at the store are much cheaper to make at home with regular old balsamic vinegar, plus they’re stupid easy and really delicious. Reducing balsamic vinegar concentrates the inherent sweetness while softening the acid, to the point that it almost tastes like a syrup (which pairs surprisingly well with strawberries and also, of course, caprese salad).
I happen to really like the taste of cheap balsamic vinegar, because I like acid more than is normal, but this sweet balsamic reduction is worth pulling out when you want things to taste fancy.
Your reduction will end up being half the volume of the vinegar you start with, so pour as much vinegar as you need into a small pot and set it over low heat. Allow it to bubble around the edges very very gently, and take it off the heat when it’s reached the right level of reduction (half the original volume) and taken on a slightly syrupy texture.
As most of you probably know, it isn’t tomato season yet. But that doesn’t need to get in the way of a nice caprese salad. Grape tomatoes tend to be more flavorful than other tomatoes in the off season, and to make them even tastier (and more able to stand up to the balsamic reduction) roast them.
Cut them in half, coat them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in a low oven (around 300 degrees fahrenheit) for about an hour.
There’s your nice balsamic reduction, ready to adorn your salad.
This is a frou frou version of the rustic caprese I like to make in the summer, but isn’t it pretty? Dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, chiffonade of basil, torn bocconcini mozzarella, salt, and the easiest reduction of all time.