Pickled Cherry Salad
I’m feeling rejuvenated after a brief hiatus. We had a lovely visit with family in Montreal, city of great restaurants and magnificent open air markets. My pantry is now packed with delectable European jams, mustards, oils, and foie gras and ready for new challenges. Coming home, I was tickled to discover my blog featured in a roundup on bon appétit.com. Funny how the universe works sometimes. This recognition encouraged me to finally take the leap I’d been debating and invest in some new equipment. Now armed with a fancy camera and tabletop lighting, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. Practice makes perfect, they say—I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. In the meantime, I offer to you a delightful little salad featuring a surprising ingredient: pickled cherries. Piquant and juicy, these marinated summer fruit complement bitter greens, creamy brie and crunchy almonds in a tantalizing way and they take no getting used to.
Mark Bittman has spun his magic again. As soon as I saw this recipe in the New York Times, I couldn’t wait to try it. What a great new way to showcase one of my favorite summer fruits—the uses for these are endless. Please don’t be put off: pickling is just a fancy way of saying soak in vinegar for a while. You don’t need much more than patience.
Begin by pitting the fruit—a cherry pitter is worth the $12 investment. Place the pitted cherries in a jar and add a healthy sprig of tarragon.
In a small saucepan, combine balsamic and sherry vinegars, sugar and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Cook briefly until sugar dissolves; let cool for a minute.
Pour vinegar mixture over the pitted cherries in the jar. Let cool to room temp, cover and place in the fridge to pickle; they’ll be ready to use in about a week and can be kept in the fridge for up to a month. Besides a great ingredient in salads, these cherries would be lovely in a sauce with seared duck breast, as an accompaniment to cheeses and pâtés, or in your favorite cocktail—a Manhattan, perhaps?
Once your pickled cherries are ready to go, it’s time to make the salad. Mâche, also known as lamb’s lettuce, is buttery tender and slightly bitter. It provides great balance to rough and crunchy friseé. Rinse and combine both in a serving bowl.
Make the dressing: add the cherry pickling juice to a small measuring cup or bowl and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add your best quality olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Toss lettuces with some of the dressing.
Top the salad with slices of creamy brie, coarsely chopped Marcona almonds (a great partner to cherries; regular almonds work as well) and the sliced pickled cherries. Drizzle with a bit more dressing and serve immediately.
Adapted from Mark Bittman/The New York Times
3/4 pound sweet cherries, pitted
1 sprig fresh tarragon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mâche rosettes
1 small friseé, leaves torn
3 tablespoons cherry pickling juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces brie, sliced into small pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Marcona or roasted lightly salted almonds
1/2 cup pickled cherries, sliced