Pickled Jalapeños Are The Perfect Spicy Complement To Goat Cheese

From sweet-spicy to bitter-savory, diametrically opposed food pairings are having a moment in the contemporary food scene. Sounds delicious ... but maybe a little complicated? It doesn't have to be. For a trip around the palate in a single bite, pair pickled jalapeños with goat cheese.

Pickling brings out the pepper's natural sweetness, making for a crispy, tangy, "swicy" bite that's pleasing for diehard spice fans and accessible for foodies who don't care for as much heat. The savory, acidic brine also leaves a flavorful taste behind without the intense spiciness. Plus, thanks to that brine, pickled jalapeños will keep for longer than fresh peppers, meaning you can store this ingredient on hand for several months in the fridge. If you have a garden, pickling is a good way to enjoy your homegrown jalapeño peppers long after they've been harvested.

Now for the goat cheese (aka chèvre). Its mild, tangy flavor and creamy texture allow the briny jalapeños to shine without competition, but its gamey, earthy profile is also strong enough to not get lost in the mix. Intrepid home cooks, feel free to pickle your own jalapeños with a little vinegar or soy sauce. Or, to cut down on prep time, canned or jarred pickled peppers are fairly easy to find in most grocery stores. Whichever method you prefer, we've rounded up a few pairing ideas to get your briny brainstorm rolling.

Take a walk on the mild side

Step aside, sweet and salty. Briny and tangy might be your new favorite flavor combo. Skewer a few pickled jalapeño slices and goat cheese crumbles on a toothpick and use it as a cocktail garnish for your next martini or bloody mary. For an elevated brunch, whip up a pickled jalapeño and goat cheese quiche or frittata. For lunch, add pickled jalapeño slices and goat cheese to a savory muffuletta. For dinner, use 'em to garnish a ribeye steak.

You could stir the pickled peppers and cheese into a batch of warming white chili. To complete the meal, you could even fold the spicy-creamy ingredients into a loaf of cornbread. (Hello, tailgate stardom.) Or, make the two ingredients the co-stars of your next charcuterie board with complementary accouterments like pear slices, umeboshi, soppressata, and seedy crackers.

Goat cheese can range in texture from soft and spreadable to crumbly or hard, which makes it easy to incorporate into countless different recipes. Banon is a soft French goat cheese with a strong aroma and woody flavor. This softer variety would be a good fit for stirring into batters or soups. For more structural soundness, Crottin de Chavignol is a firmer option.