Tuesday, October 7, 2008

zucchini pickles á la zuni cafe

First, on zucchini. If you plant them, be aware that you will be finding them, lurking and huge in the back of the garden well into October. I just lugged one in from the backyard. It was the size of my thigh. Oopsies. That's what I call worm food. Unless someone out there has another suggestion?

Now, on pickles. I love freshly made pickles! Any kind really, but these from the Zuni Cafe are essential if you're growing zucchini (or any zuke-like squash) in your yard. One can only take so much zucchini bread after all. I had nearly forgotten about these this summer until I happened upon The Wednesday Chef on the day she posted the recipe herself. (SIDE NOTE: great food blog, and she just got engaged! welcome to the world of wedding planning Luisa!) Inspired, I opened my Zuni Cafe cookbook and have made like 4 batches since.

I added a few things to the o.g. recipe, because I can never help myself. And my quantities are a little loose... because 1 pound of squash doesn't even begin to dent a healthy backyard crop. Plus I don't have a kitchen scale... maybe I need?

Editor's note: if you don't have a mandoline you need one. In a bad way. (and it doesn't have to be fancy. I have this one, it's excellent, easy to use, and inexpensive). SO, mandoline in hand it takes about 3 minutes to perfectly slice a huge bowl full of squash and onions. Mandoline not in hand, potentially scary long time slaving over cutting board + inevitably ill-shaped pickles.

Zucchini Pickles adapted from the Zuni Cafe
(this is a doubled recipe... if you're going to go to the trouble, just make a bunch!)

2 lbs very fresh firm zucchini or other summer squash
2 small red onions (real recipe calls for yellow, but I never seem to have on hand)
2-3 HUGE garlic cloves (or more small ones)
4 T kosher salt
3 1/2 c cider vinegar
1/2 c filtered water
2 c sugar
3 or 4 springs of fresh thyme
3 t dry mustard
3 t teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 t ground turmeric

1. Wash and trim the zucchini, and slice thinly (1/16") using hopefully a mandoline for speed and ease, but a nice sharp knife will work too. Same goes for the onions and garlic. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt. Leave be on the counter.

2. After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini - it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry. I layered the squash in between paper towels to ensure maximum moisture absorption.

3. Combine the vinegar, sugar, thyme, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.)

4. Return the zucchini to the dry bowl and cover with the cooled brine. Stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Select appropriately sized glass jars and wash in super hot water to make sure they are nice and clean. Fill jar(s) with pickles and brine, making sure to cover the squash with liquid. If you're short on juice, personally I think it's fine to add a little water. These will live in the fridge, so you don't have to worry about growing bad things in the jars.

5. Open your fridge the next morning to get soy milk for coffee and see lovely jars of homemade pickles smiling back at you. yay.

The big jar is for the little cocktail party we're having the night before the wedding. The small jar is to tide us over until then.


fasana*design said...

Just stumbled onto your blog and I have to say, you have immediately been added to my favorites...I don't know if it is because you are a graphic designer or if you just saved the five HUGE zucchinis on my counter that are ABSOLUTELY NOT going to be made into bread.


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