Sometimes the prime season for an ingredient passes before we notice. Take strawberries: We blink and the height of strawberry season has disappeared. But here's a great way to make any strawberry intensely flavorful: pickle them. We learned this trick from Standard Grill chef Dan Silverman while he was in the Tasting Table Test Kitchen cooking for a Just Food event. Silverman poured a hot vinegar solution over strawberries then let them macerate overnight. The result was pleasantly acidic and tangy, and blushing red throughout. And the unexpected benefit was the infused vinegar, a tangy liquid essence of strawberry worthy of any-season play.
Pickled Strawberries with Tender Greens and Goat Cheese
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings (with 1½ cups leftover pickled strawberries and vinegar)
Cook Time: 5 minutes plus overnight chilling
1 pound strawberries, hulled (keep whole if the strawberries are small, or quarter or slice into sixths if they are large)
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup rice vinegar
⅓ cup water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cups salad greens (such as arugula, Tatsoi, baby spinach, or a mesclun mix)
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
4 ounces fresh goat's-milk cheese (chèvre), crumbled
1. Make the pickled strawberries: In a large heat-safe bowl, place the strawberries, tarragon and thyme springs, and ground black pepper; set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer the rice vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the strawberries and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (the strawberries keep up to 1½ weeks in the refrigerator).
2. Make the salad: In a small bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup of the strawberry pickling liquid, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the salad greens and fennel between four plates. Sprinkle each plate with ¼ cup pickled strawberries, drizzling with the vinaigrette. Top with crumbled cheese and serve.