Easy Summer Pickles

by Julie

Easy Summer Pickles + {Recipes for the Week of August 27}

I’m a huge fan of pickles. When I was a kid, my mom would pick my brother and me up from our after-school program and we would all head to the small, local market. Over the deli counter rested a huge glass jar of whole dill pickles, and my mom would buy one for the three of us to share as we shopped. It came wrapped in a napkin, but by the time we had each taken a bite, the thin piece of paper was quite useless and our fingers were covered in brine. I give my mom a lot of credit for this brilliant parenting strategy: my brother and I were so distracted with that pickle that we were usually able to bypass the sugary cereal aisle without a complaint, and I don’t remember every being hungry by the time we ended up at the register where all the candy bars were. We were in-and-out of that store and back home making dinner in record time. Way to go, Mom!

To this day, nothing beats a cold pickle, eaten right from the jar, on a hot day or during a backyard BBQ. So yesterday, knowing that we were headed toward both (hot/sunny, BBQ with friends), I quickly made a few Mason jars of pickles to take over and enjoy. I typically use the recipes straight out of this book, which I found to be a great introduction to the various processes of canning and preserving.

Today I adapted the recipe for Basic, All-Purpose Brine and packed my jars full of local pickling cucumbers. I played around with my vinegar, opting for apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, and I skipped the horseradish and substituted dried chipotle peppers for the recipe’s suggested cayenne pepper.

Basic, All-Purpose Brine (adapted from Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving)

Ingredients

3 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons pickling salt
peppercorns
celery seed
fresh or dried dill
garlic cloves, peeled
dried chipotle pepper

To make

Sterilize 4 pint or 2 quart Mason jars. (For detailed instructions on this process, see here. Truthfully, I didn’t sterilize my jars. I know, I know. But I wasn’t looking to preserve them long…someone please tell me if this is deathly bad.)

Combine vinegar, 1 cup of water, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan and heat until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and the liquid begins to boil. Turn down the heat but keep a simmer going, then prep your jars.

Add the following to each of your pint jars (double this amount for quart-sized jars): 6-10 peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon celery seed and dill (measurements are for dried herbs), 2 garlic cloves, 1 dried pepper.

Pack vegetables tightly in the jars. You can also slice the cucumbers into coins if you like. Then pour your brine into the jar and fill to 1/2-inch headspace. Screw on lids and continue to follow the sterilization process or, if you want to be bad like me, throw them in the fridge and eat them within a couple weeks.

Recipes for the Week

Monday, August 27: Tortilla Salad (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Ingredients

3 cups cooked beans, room temperature or warm
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds (or pepitas)
1/4 cup  favorite dressing or vinaigrette

2 cups chopped cauliflower (stems, leaves, florets), boiled in a bit of salted water for just 20 seconds, then drained under cold water

2-3 big handfuls of tortilla chips
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 small (watermelon) radish, sliced paper thin
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded

Tuesday, August 28: Zucchini-Basil Soup (adapted from A Wooden Nest)

Ingredients

4 pounds zucchini and/or yellow crookneck squash
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic
4 cups water
1 handful of basil leaves, rinsed
salt to taste

Wednesday, August 29: Grilled Eggplant with Herbed Quinoa(from Sprouted Kitchen)

*I’m planning to roast my eggplant. Here’s a link to instructions.

Ingredients

3-4 medium eggplants (maybe 2 larger ones, 4 smaller ones)
sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
za’atar seasoning
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
half of a small red onion, sliced thin
generous handful each of fresh basil, dill and cilantro
2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Thursday, August 30: Keralan Vegetable Stew (from Food & Wine)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons finely julienned peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 fresh curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
salt
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

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