I am always on the lookout for some small unique thing I can put out with a cheese platter or charcuterie board for entertaining. Especially if it is something I can easily make myself for that little special touch. Recently I’ve been doing quick pickles of unusual items since pickled things are great with both cheese and cured meats. I sort of stumbled into these beauties by accident.
It started with some friends planning to come over for wine and snacks, and I thought I would make pickled grapes to put out with the cheese and prosciutto. I placed a grocery delivery order that included a pound of grapes. What I received was a pint of grape tomatoes. I am not an enormous fan of a raw tomato, so these were not going to get snacked upon, or added to my salads. But their size and shape and natural sweetness made me wonder if I could swap them in for my grapes in the recipe and end up with pickled grape tomatoes? Turns out I could.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
I used honey instead of the usual sugar in my recipe and ended up with a glorious liquid that became a prize all its own long after the tomatoes were gone. This goes to a very agrodolce place, sweet and sour and spicy, and the firmness of the grape tomatoes keeps them from sogging out. If you want to amp up the flavor you can add some sliced shallot or whole garlic cloves to the brine. I used white balsamic, but any white wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar will do. Don’t use regular balsamic as it makes them muddy looking. Cut a small slice of the stem end off of a pint of grape tomatoes so that the brine can penetrate and place them in a large glass jar or container.
Watch: How to Build a Minimalist Cheese Board
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring a half a cup of white balsamic vinegar, half a cup of honey, a teaspoon of brown mustard seed, a teaspoon of fennel seed, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of whole peppercorns and a half a cinnamon stick to a simmer, just to dissolve the sugar. Set aside and let cool for about 30 minutes to steep the ingredients and flavor the brine. Remove the cinnamon stick and nestle it into the tomatoes in the jar. Pour the brine over the tomatoes and let cool completely on the counter before transferring to the fridge to chill and marinate overnight. Serve with cheese, cured meats, or on a crudité platter. They are particularly great on crostini with fresh ricotta or burrata with a drizzle of the pickling liquid.
When the tomatoes are gone, use the leftover brine in salad dressings, or drizzled on sweet roasted vegetables like butternut squash or sweet potatoes. You can also strain the liquid and reduce over medium high heat to a syrupy glaze consistency that is great on cocktail weenies or cocktail meatballs.
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