You've all heard me whine before - as much as I love San Francisco, summer here leaves something to be desired. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. Just this morning I went for a jog through Golden Gate Park, the fog settled in low, the streets damp, trees and buildings a block ahead tapered off into a misty haze. Everything was reduced to a moody, muted palette accented by an occasional burst of color from, say, a swatch of confetti-colored dahlia blooms. Quintessential San Francisco. Dreamy, but a summer spent in the low 60°s nonetheless. That said, I'm not quite ready to give up on a proper dose of sunshine yet, and I'm preparing to temporarily flee SF for one of my favorite warm weather get-aways - but more on that later.
Today, I thought I'd share a recipe for the zucchini pickles I've been making all summer - at least we get proper summer crops here ;)...These pickles have gone camping with us multiple times, and I've tried to keep a steady supply of them in the refrigerator. I like them on cheese-slathered crostini, big and small - see the photo up above. They're good these veggie burgers, certain tacos, and simple green summer salads. If you come up with other ideas for them, let me know. The only thing that takes much time here is draining some of the liquid from the zucchini, if you plan ahead a bit, the rest of the process only takes a couple minutes.
As far as flavor and seasoning go, this recipe delivers a bit of spicy bite from the mustard seeds and red chile, coupled with a hint of sweet, but not much. If you like a super-sweet pickle, double the sugar, and go from there. Same goes for the spiciness.
There are quite a number of ways to play around with the personality of these pickles. Sometimes I shave the zucchini paper-thin, resulting in a whispy tangle of pickled zucchini and onions. Other times I want my pickles to have a bit more bite, structure, and definition. In those instances, I slice the zucchini thicker, perhaps 1/8-inch, and let them drain as long as possible, sometimes overnight refrigerated. Also worth noting, when I make them for our personal condiment stash, I used a brown natural cane sugar. It gives the pickle liquid a brownish cast that, quite frankly, weirds people out if they don't know what is causing it. So, if I'm making the pickles to bring to a BBQ or something, I'll make them with regular organic cane sugar - one that is lighter in color.
3 medium zucchini (1 pound / 16 oz / 450 g), thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup (small handful) fresh dill sprigs
1 small fresh red chile pepper, very thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup / 180 ml cider vinegar
3/4 cup / 180 ml white wine vinegar
1/3 cup / 1.75 oz / 50g natural cane sugar
Toss the zucchini, onion, shallots, and salt together in a colander and place over a bowl to catch the liquids. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least a couple hours. Toss once or twice along the way. You're aiming to get as much liquid out of the zucchini as possible. When you're finished draining the zucchini, shake off any water. At this point you want the zucchini as dry as possible. Place in a 1 liter / 1 quart jar along with the dill, chile pepper, and mustard seeds. Alternately, you can cram them into a 3/4 liter Weck jar like I do, but it's always a bit snug in the jar.
Combine the ciders and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves, and continue to boil for a few minutes. Pour the liquid over the zucchini and seal the jar. Let cool, then refrigerate. The pickles are good for a week or so.
Makes one large jar.
Prep time: 120 minutes - Cook time: 5 minutes