The heaps and bounds put out by this season's crops are providing plenty to experiment with in the kitchen, and one of my summer favorites continues to captivate my attention: stone fruit.
Last month I posted a recipe for an easy peach-raspberry crisp, and more recently I heated up my saucepan to brew up a concoction of savory-sweet cherries soused with balsamic vinegar and a medley of spices. Over this past weekend, I played around a bit more with this puckery recipe, experimenting with a bowl of mottled purple-red pluots.
The result yielded a perky combination: white balsamic vinegar infused with the motley flavors of cinnamon, culinary lavender, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, orange blossom honey, and a little salt and pepper.
This summer treat pairs well in a salad, or served up warm with grilled pork or lamb.
The tangy finished product will last up to two weeks in your refrigerator.
Pickled Stone Fruit Recipe
3 - 4 cups firm stone fruit slices (soft or overripe fruit just won't do)
2 1/2 cups red or white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 - 4 tablespoons honey (go heavier on the honey if your fruit is especially tart)
1/3 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/3 teaspoon dried culinary lavender
1/3 teaspoons each salt & pepper
A few shakes of red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy nuances)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Heat the vinegar, water, thyme, lavender, honey, red pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and salt & pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to reduce a bit while permitting the eclectic, complementary flavors to meld.
Meanwhile, wash the stone fruit, slice in half and remove the pits. Depending on the size of the fruit used, slice into halves or quarters. Then place the fruit in a glass container (either a Mason jar or a glass bowl with a plastic lid).
When the 10 minutes have come to pass, pour the fragrant mixture over the fruit and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before placing the lid on and tucking away to marinate in the fridge. Allow the flavors to plucker up for at least 4 hours before serving. Discard the bay leaf before plating.
This SLO County salad will hit the spot on a warm day. Top off some lettuce with slivers of funky blue cheese and a few pieces of pickled stone fruit. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, a few teaspoons of the piquant vinegar mixture, then dust lightly with salt & pepper .