Tag Archives: dill

Putting up with the CSA

I woke up this morning to the pounding rain outside open windows, a truly enthusiastic downpour. A perfect day, my groggy self thought, to stay indoors and catch up on some things around the house (why, after these weeks and months of not working full-time, there are still so many things to catch up on is anyone’s guess). As my recent blogging lapse may imply, things have gotten away from me a bit in the kitchen lately. I have noticed, these last few weeks, that our refrigerator is always packed with vegetables, even when it is Tuesday afternoon and our new CSA delivery is slated to arrive in mere hours. On this rainy Monday, I decided to break that pattern, to clear out some space in the veggie drawers for our new stuff tomorrow. It was time to put some veggies up for even drabber days.

I spent the morning washing greens, chopping the stems of Chinese broccoli, separating beets from their leafy tops, steaming those tops with the Chinese broccoli and some u-choy, packing delightfully dark and tasty steamed greens into freezer bags.

Then I broke out some more CSA goodies, chopped a few rough stems, and cleaned out the salad spinner to transform this:

into this:

It feels good not just to have some space in the fridge, but to have shiny new packages in my freezer, sturdy vegetables and fantastically vivid green sauce for winter months. The frozen greens will go into frittatas, turnovers, noodles, wherever fresh greens normally go. The arugula-dill pesto, bright and fresh with a slight bitter bite, would be tasty in gratins, on pasta, or slathered on fish. Mashed into cream cheese, it would make a lovely little tea sandwich. Instead of a fridge packed with veggies that I fear I will not eat in time, I have a freezer brimming with possibilities.

Arugula-Dill Pesto Recipe

What Goes In:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large bunch arugula
  • 1 large bunch dill
  • 1 handful (probably around 1/4 cup) toasted pine nuts
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • a good glug of olive oil (again, probably about 1/4 cup)
  • salt and pepper

How to Do it:

  • Give garlic a head start by rough chopping in your food processor
  • Add greens, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice. Pulse. Pulse.
  • With the food processor running, add olive oil until nice and thick.

That’s it! Super easy! Get to it! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some adorable patty pan squashes to steam and scoop and stuff.

Making Pickles

And now for a closer look at the pickles briefly featured in the raclette post…

 

IMG_2545

 

I made these babies earlier this month. The main thing keeping me from making my own lacto-fermented, or brined, pickles sooner was lack of access to grape leaves. Most pickle recipes that I have read call for spices to be added to a crock, then a layer of cucumbers, a layer of grape leaves, etc. The tannins in the grape leaves are said to keep the pickles crisp as they ferment. I still don’t have any grape leaves lying around, but I recently read that horseradish leaves will also do the trick, so I called on a friend whose dad grows horseradish in his yard. Though his papa enjoys the spicy little root, it grows like a weed, threatening to overtake his garden, so my friend has been known to show up with bags of dirty little horseradish roots whenever he’s been at his parents’ house on weeding days. Needless to say, I love this. When I asked for some leaves, he was all too happy to show up at my door with a huge freaking plant, roots and all, hanging out in a bucket. I am sorry that I failed to photo document.

I washed the leaves well and sliced the root finely using my ceramic slicer. A grater or mandoline would work, too. I threw about two heads of garlic (peeled whole cloves), a whole bunch of fresh dill and a small handful of peppercorns in with the horseradish in my big gallon jar, then laid some small kirby cucumbers on top. I topped the cukes with a layer of horseradish leaves and some more dill and repeated until my jar was just about full. I then poured in some salty brine, topped with a ziplock as I do for kraut and a little coffee filter hat, and I put it all in a dark spot.

It took a day for the clear brine to cloud over. I checked the pickles every day to make sure they weren’t getting funky and to see how fermentation was coming along, and mine were ready in 10 days. I didn’t find them to be particularly crisp, though they were a bit moreso after some time in the fridge. I don’t know if this is a product of using horseradish instead of grape leaves, or if there is only so much crispness that can be preserved during the fermentation process. I suspect the latter, and the pickles are enjoyable and definitely not mushy, and I will make more pickles in the future. Next time around, I will add much more garlic than I did last time around and maybe experiment a bit with other spices, though my personal opinion is that it’s hard to beat the simple combination of garlic and dill when it comes to pickles.

“Next time” implies, of course, that I will ever approach the end of the gallon jar of pickles that is currently taking up precious shelf space in my fridge…

I have been munching on them solo, I enjoyed them immensely with raclette, and last night I chopped them into a variation on sauce gribiche inspired by the inspirational Orangette. I look forward to working the pickles into many a salad and pressed sandwich in future weeks (egg salad and veggie cubanos top the priority list). Perhaps I’ll even be ready to make another batch this glorious cucumber season.

 

sliced up and picnic ready
sliced up and picnic ready