Italian cuisine: Strawberry Almond Panna Cotta

May 18, 2024 298

One of the interesting things that you notice while working in both the United States and Italy is that the availability of certain seasonal fruits and vegetables is much more limited (especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest) than it is in Italy.

Living in the Washington, DC area, I don’t always have the same fresh fruits in season as my Italian family and colleagues do. Thankfully the bounty of spring berries, however makes up for the gap. I love transforming strawberries into decadent and healthful desserts each May, in honor of National Strawberry Month in the US.

This recipe comes from my latest cookbook, co-written with Dr. Simon Poole, the Diabetes Cookbook for Dummies. Like my other books, it outlines how traditional Italian foods naturally represent the goodness of the Mediterranean Diet while being so pleasing to the palate, that no one even notices how good for you they truly are.

Enjoy the book and my products at a special discounted rate this month here. Buon appetite a tutti!

Strawberry Almond Panna Cotta

Prep time: 5 min. Cook time: 35 min plus 4 hours cooling time. Yield: 4 servings


2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

3 Tablespoons pure honey, divided

1/8 cup Amy Riolo Selections White Balsamic, or your favorite balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 cup hulled strawberries, thinly sliced, plus 2 extra, halved, for garnish

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch unrefined sea salt


  1. Place two tablespoons water in a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the surface, and stir with a fork. Allow to rehydrate for 5-10 minutes until the gelatin has softened.
  2. In a large liquid measuring cup, add almond milk, 2 Tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the sweetened almond milk into a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when milk is steaming hot and is about to boil.
  4. Add a few tablespoons of milk mixture to the gelatin to temper it while stirring. Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  5. Pour the gelatin into the milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  6. Place four small ramekins, teacups, or heat-proof clear glasses on a small, rimmed baking tray. Ladle the milk in even quantities into the containers.
  7. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover the containers and the tray with plastic wrap. Place the entire tray in the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours or up to a few days.
  8. Prepare the strawberries by heating the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the strawberries along with remaining honey, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, stirring, and reduce to low heat. Allow the mixture to simmer until the strawberries break down into a thick compote. Remove from heat and cool or store in the refrigerator until serving.
  9. When ready to serve, place the strawberry mixture on top of the panna cotta and top with 1 slice of fresh strawberry half.

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