Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cucumber Salad with Pickled Carrot & Red Onion

SUMMER POTLUCKS are one of my favorite events - a great chance to improvise and use whatever fresh produce I can get at the farmer's market. Today, I got some amazing cucumbers, carrots, radishes and red onions. So, I thought it might be nice to pickle the carrots and onions, and then add that all to the cucumbers - that way the cucumbers are still nice and crispy and will pickle slightly in the vinegar brine, making the leftovers more of a pickle than a salad.

1# carrots, peeled & cut up
1 med red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
spices - anise seed, dill seed, mustard seed, black pepper, salt, clove
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2-4 T. sea salt
fresh ginger - big chunk, peeled and sliced thin
1-2 serrano chiles

6 cucumbers
1 bunch radishes, sliced thin
1/2 bunch parsley
1 bunch peppermint

1. Peel & cut up the carrots - I have a coarse grater that makes 1/2" wide shreds - or julienne the carrots into small sticks about 1 1/2" to 2" long.

2. Drop the carrots into 3 c. boiling lightly salted water and simmer for about 1 minute. Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water and then thoroughly drain (a casserole dish lined with a clean tea towel folded to fit or paper towels works great). Leave the carrots and occasionally turn them to drain better.

3. Add spices to water and return to boil, boil it down about 1/3 or so. Add the apple cider vinegar, return to boil and then add the onion slices, serrano & ginger. Simmer about 3 minutes.

4. Remove the towel from the dish where the carrots are resting - pour on the onions & brine & spices. Stir together and let rest.

5. Using a zester, remove some of the cucumber peel - it makes a nice edge and will help the cucumbers keep some shape. Halve the cucumber and cut into 1/4" thick slices. Add to carrots & onions, toss gently to mix and cover.

6. Scrub & thinly slice radishes (reserving the greens for eating later - yum!) and add to the salad.

7. Chiffonade parsley & peppermint - toss into salad. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to serving bowl. Store remainder of salad in large mason jar, make sure it is covered with brine - should keep a week in the fridge (unless you eat it all).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mint Pesto

This mint pesto turned out beyond my expectations - it really works and it keeps well in the refrigerator. If you have mint growing wild in your garden, this is a really great use for it. The proportions for this recipe are estimated and your mileage may vary!

7-8 cups washed mint leaves (no stems)
1/2 - 3/4 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 - 3/4 c raw almonds
1/2 c pumpkin seed oil
2-4 T agave syrup
3-6 peeled & coarsely chopped or smashed garlic cloves
2 serrano chiles, seeded & coarsely chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Olive oil, as needed

  1. Wash and strip enough good mint leaves to fill your 7 c Cuisinart
  2. chop 1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds and 1/2-3/4 c raw almonds
  3. Add a few handfuls of leaves to the food processor & process til it starts to blend up a bit
  4. Add some pumpkin seed oil, alternating with olive oil for taste
  5. Coarsely chopp 2 serrano chiles and add to food processor with more mint leaves
  6. Coarsely chop 3-6 cloves garlic, add to food processor with more mint leaves
  7. Add juice from 2 limes and more mint leaves
  8. Add sea salt and 2 tb agave syrup and rest of mint leaves
  9. Process the heck out of this til it's smooth - add water or veg broth to thin it out if necessary.
Be sure to tap your storage containers to get out air bubbles, then cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil to help keep it fresh.

This pesto is great on pasta, mixed into potatoes and everything. Plenty of mint, so plenty of opportunities to experiment!