Pickled Cherry Panzanella

Pickled-cherry panzanella.

Emily Suzanne McDonald

Sour cherries have a terribly short season, but don’t let that stop you from incorporating them into holiday meals. Canned, jarred or frozen tart cherries work perfectly for this, but if you happen to have some fresh ones on hand, all the better. 

Serves | 8 |

Pickled Cherries

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • allspice berries
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • juniper berries, slightly smashed
  • whole cloves
  • bay leaf
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb sour cherries, pitted and drained (if in water, measure after draining)

Panzanella

  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp pickled cherries liquid (recipe below)
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz ciabatta bread, sliced in 1-inch rectangles
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly into rings (to serve)
  • 8 oz goat cheese, crumbled (to serve)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (to serve)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (to serve)

| Preparation – Pickled Cherries | In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat vinegar, sugar and water, stirring occasionally until mixture just begins to boil and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. In a 32-ounce canning jar, add cinnamon, allspice, fennel, juniper, cloves, bay leaf and red pepper flakes, followed by cherries. Pour hot vinegar mixture carefully over fruit and spices and allow to cool slightly. Seal tightly with lid and shake gently to move spices around; uncover and continue to cool to room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

| Preparation – Panzanella | In a small bowl, whisk liquid from your pickled cherries as you slowly stream in ½ cup olive oil. Continue to whisk until dressing has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to refrigerator until ready to use.

In large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and bread; toss to coat and stir frequently for 10 minutes until bread cubes are golden and toasted. Remove from heat.

| To Serve | Divide toasted ciabatta cubes equally onto 8 plates and top each with about 3 tablespoons pickled cherries and a few rings of red onion. Divide goat cheese and pine nuts evenly over plates; drizzle with panzanella dressing and garnish with rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. 

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.