Well, we harvested the produce that the deer, rabbits and birds didn't harvest first: cucumbers. They are lovely, but they stand alone. We had visions of gazpacho made with our own tomatoes and sweet peppers as well as the cucumbers, but alas, the Local Fauna have crushed our dreams. So then, the question became, "What the Hell do we do with a bunch o' cucumbers?" The answer was "pickles." Now, I'm not talking about using pickling salt and canning and all. I'm just talking about a very light, fresh pickle, kind of like our friends in India and Turkey make, a pickle where the flavor of the vegetable, pre-pickle, shines through the sharp brine.
No recipe, here. I didn't consult a cookbook or go forth into the Hinternet to find inspiration. This was all about what was already in the house, and using flavors that we like. You could use this technique with any non-guishy vegetable (I don't think tomatoes would do very well, for instance) such as summer squashes and zucchini, tender carrots and even beans. You could also slice potatoes into discs, blanch and shock them*, and pickle them. Nice!
The Fauna Deprived Us Of Gazpacho Pickled Cucumbers
- fresh vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces, harder veggies blanched (or steamed, even) and shocked first. I am sure you have noted that our cucumbers aren't peeled. That's because The Beloved likes the skin part. Feel free to peel yours
- diced onion
- minced garlic, to taste
- sugar (more or less, depending upon how sweet you like your veggies. I used maybe 2 tsp)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- celery seed
- extra virgin olive oil
- light vinegar (not balsamic, just for aesthetics--I used rice wine vinegar with red pepper flake in it)
In a bowl, toss the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper (to taste) and celery seed (or any other flavoring you like--mustard seed would be good) together. Whisk in just a bit of olive oil--I probably used about 1/4 cup. Whisk and pour in enough vinegar to mostly cover your veggies. Just eyeball it.
Pour the dressing over the veggies and onion. Stir and let marinate for at least a couple of hours.
These guys will keep just fine in the fridge for a week. They are very, very tasty.
*Plunge veggies into vigorously boiling salted water until just tender--anywhere from a minute to several, depending upon how firm they are. Remove from boiling water and immediately submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process and set the colors.
PS The Very Easy Way of making these pickles is just to pour a good quality store-bought vinaigrette over the veggies and let marinate. You can do this, just promise me you will read the label first and buy a dressing that doesn't contain HFCS or any other scary ingredients.