It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle today. I’m in Maui right now but cheering on the last warm days before heading into what will surely be a bittersweet, gorgeous Fall. If you are still harvesting summer squash, there are lots of options to use your glut…don’t toss it! Today I’ll be posting several recipes, but this one stands out as a way to use up quite a bit. Also–if you shred your squash (food processor to the rescue here), you can stash it in your freezer for months.
This relish is unexpectedly delicious; slightly sweet and just acidic enough to brighten any meat. It’s also easy to make. Grill up the last of those hot dogs and hit ’em hard with this relish…I think you’ll thank me.
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000)
Nasturtiums are true multi-use flowers. They’re easy to grow and beautiful, and they attract pollinators to your garden to boot. Both nasturtium flowers and young leaves are edible as long as you grow them organically, which isn’t hard to do. They provide a peppery punch similar to watercress in salads, and the flowers add a gorgeous splash of color. Nasturtiums even contain decent amounts of vitamin C.
A regular caper is the flower bud of the Capparis spinosa plant and its seedpod is called a caper berry, which is also delicious (especially in a bloody mary) when brined. The seedpods of nasturtiums look just like the caper plant’s buds, and they taste similar to capers once pickled. In my opinion they’re better. Nasturtiums form seedpods in late summer; you’ll find them attached to the stems underneath the foliage, where they develop in clusters of three. You want young pods that are still green since mature seedpods turn yellowish and hard.
How pretty are these? I didn’t grow up eating beets, but I’ve come to love them–in salads, roasted with other root vegetables, as chips, and especially pickled. Dan grew a bunch of chioggia (aka “candy cane”) beets in the p-patch and since I rarely turn the oven on during summer, those babies were just begging to be pickled. I’m certain that this recipe will work well with any kind of beet; I think golden beets would look pretty gorgeous in jars too.
I love these onions on tacos, hot dogs, tossed in a salad, or whenever a bit of bright acidity and mellow onion flavor is called for. They’re super easy to make and are foolproof. Flavors can be adjusted to suit your own tastes, but here’s my basic recipe:
1 1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp kosher salt, more or less to taste*
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
1 Tbsp whole coriander or mustard seeds
Thinly sliced red onion, just enough to be fully covered by the brine
Put everything in a glass jar, stir, and refrigerate. The onions will be ready to enjoy in a couple of days and will keep for weeks. Don’t let them disappear to the back of the fridge, you won’t want to forget that you have these available. You’ll be surprised how many dishes they complement.
*About salt and brine: It’s important to taste your brine before you load the onions into it. Whatever you pickle will basically have the same salt profile as the brine. If it’s not salty enough your finished product will be sour and bland. If it’s too salty, you’ll only taste salt when you first bite into your pickles. Both situations are easy to fix: add more salt or add a bit of water after dumping some brine out, let your pickles rest in the fridge for another day or so, and try them again. Adding water is also a good amendment if your brine has too much vinegar.