Pickled fruit is not a new concept, but I don’t see it utilized nearly often enough. Heck, it’s not something I utilize often enough.
Because pickled fruit, is, to put it bluntly, kind of awesome.
Now, don’t confused pickled fruit with dill pickles. A ‘pickle’ is, technically, simply something (fruit or vegetable or otherwise) that has been preserved in a vinegar brine. That we’ve come to solely associate cucumbers with pickles is a sad thing, there is so much more to pickles than cukes. I wholeheartedly encourage you to think outside the cucumber.
While I’ve pickled cherries before, pickled strawberries was new to me. I elected to quick-pickle them in the fridge, both to keep them slightly firmer and because I didn’t have many strawberries left to spare. The quick-pickled version will keep for a week or two in the fridge. They do soften after brining, and I’m sure that water-bath canning would soften them even further, but I don’t see why you couldn’t if you wanted them to keep longer.
A strawberry salad seemed like the perfect way to showcase these tart treasures, topped with toasted almonds and fried goat cheese rounds (because fried goat cheese makes everything better).
I mixed a bag of salad greens (this Vive la France! mix is my current favorite) with some purslane from my balcony garden. I bought the purslane for the pretty flowers, not realizing at the time that it is actually somewhat of a pervasive weed around these parts, but also that it is edible. Since the plants have kind of taken off since I planted them in with my tomatoes, I have a feeling we’ll be enjoying a lot of purslane salads this summer in an effort to keep the plants in check.
If you have any ideas for what else I can do with this new-to-me green (other than the obvious salads and simply gawking at the neon-colored blooms), I’d love to hear!
While the pickled strawberries and fried goat cheese might steal the show, the dressing shouldn’t be discounted. I wanted something that would compliment the already tart berries and not overpower them, and ultimately decided on a light herb vinaigrette with a combination of parsley, basil, and oregano. While the sherry vinegar makes it look a bit like algae sludge, the taste is bright and tangy and a perfect compliment to the other ingredients in this unorthodox salad.
Purslane and Pickled Strawberry Salad with Fried Goat Cheese
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
For Pickled Strawberries:
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup filtered water
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch salt
For Herb Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil (about 10 leaves)
- 1 sprig fresh oregano
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For Fried Goat Cheese:
- 1 (8 ounce) log goat cheese, cold
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil, for frying
- 2 ounces mixed salad greens
- 2 ounces purslane
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- To prepare the pickled strawberries, place berries in a glass jar or container. Bring sugar, water, vinegar, and spices to a boil in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Pour over berries and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week to let the berries properly absorb the brine.
- To prepare the herb vinaigrette, combine parsley, basil, oregano, vinegar, and honey in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped. Drizzle in olive oil and blend on low speed until emulsified and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To prepare the fried goat cheese, in a small bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Place the flour in a small, shallow dish. Toss together the panko, salt, and pepper in a another small, shallow dish.
- Carefully slice the cold goat cheese into 8 even discs. Lightly coat each slice in flour, tapping to remove any excess. Dip in egg, followed by breadcrumb mixture, gently rolling until disc is evenly coated.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan set over medium-high heat. Gently place the goat cheese rounds in the pan and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
- To assemble, gently toss the salad greens and purslane with some of the dressing (to taste). Transfer to a serving platter or individual serving plates. Arrange warm goat cheese rounds on top; sprinkle with quartered pickled strawberries and toasted almonds.
Pickled strawberry recipe from Margo McCormack.// All images and text ©