Home gardeners are typically thinking about planting, not harvesting, tomatoes in April, but local hydroponic heirlooms are available year-round. Here, Five Loaves Cafe's corporate chef Jason Ulak combines them with pickled strawberries for a sweet, sort-of-Caprese, minus the cheese.


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 basil leaves, torn

1 pint strawberries, sliced

3 to 4 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Basil leaves for garnish

Sea salt


To pickle the berries, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pepper and basil. Pour over berries and allow to pickle for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours and up to 3 to 4 hours.

When ready to serve, drain the pickling juice from the berries, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons to drizzle on tomatoes. Discard basil. For plating, spoon the pickled berries on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the reserved pickling liquid and extra virgin olive oil over the berries. Sprinkle with basil leaves and sea salt.