September 19, 2010: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today
For this month's Daring Cooks challenge, I pickled and as it happened, canned, as well. This was a completely unplanned effort on my part, really. I had decided to pickle some zucchini and had everything ready for it even before I checked the challenge. And, as to the canning, a fortuitous bounty from the CSA and travel plans made some form preservation necessary. Altogether, all boded well for, perhaps, the easiest challenge for me!
Then, Why, you ask, am I posting late? Well, for one thing the pickled portion needed time to sit and marinate in the juices and then I was a bit lackadaisical in photographing it. Anyway, that's my excuse and I hope that the recipes I share, of Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil and Homemade Tomato Sauce, will make up for my procrastination :)
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Still trying to get to the other side of overabundance of summer squash, I came across this gorgeous post. I loved the idea of storing it in oil, much like pickles in my country traditionally are. Oil being a natural preservative, is used extensively in pickling raw fruit from lemons to mangoes to vegetables to meat! My all time favorite is the HOT mango (avakkai) pickle from the state of Andra Pradesh. Next to that is spicy shrimp pickle that my in-laws make :D
My mind was made up instantly! I would pickle zucchini in white wine and vinegar and save it for posterity in flavored olive oil. I wasn't going to spice the heart out of the vegetable and decided some delicateness was necessary. So I went with rosemary, garlic and pepper for added flavor. So, the reason, it took a while to get to the table is that, the pickled vegetable has to sit in the oil undisturbed for atleast two weeks, so it has time to absorb the flavors.
The pickle is fantastic with toast, a little goat cheese or even sour cream and topped red onion slices and garlic flowers! Awesome way to start the day! :) Btw, the 'bouquet' in my photos is made of garlic flowers!! I left some scapes in my fridge and they bloomed so beautifully!!
Now that was done. Over the next few days, because of travel plans of my CSA share partner I was faced with a bin full of plump and very ripe tomatoes that didn't look like they were on my side of survival. So, I had to device a PoA to make them last. I settled on pasta sauce...
No brainer, right?! Sorta yes. I mean, I imbibe sufficient quantities of pasta to warrant it and I usually make the sauce from scratch but never before made it in large enough quantities to store. The recipe is what I usually use and is very simple and quite forgiving on some ingredients.
The tomato sauce was a delight. My only complaint is that I made only one jar of it and I wish I had more. Well, when I started out, I thought I would have too much. Lesson learnt: There is never too much of good pasta sauce!
Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil
(adapted from Sara's recipe)
500g zucchini, cubed small
1-1/2 cups white wine
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (can use white wine or champagne vinegar)
1 T salt
1 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 stem of rosemary leaves, peeled
3/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
In a pan bring wine, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Add the diced zucchini and boil for 5 minutes while occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be a steady boil the entire time. Drain the zucchini and spread in one layer over a clean kitchen towel and air dry overnight.
Sterilise your pickle jar. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper to the jar. Taste the zucchini and if salt is needed add that too in the jar. Place the zucchini in it and toss to coat with the seasoning. Cover with good olive oil.
Seal and set aside for atleast two weeks before using. Do not open to peek for 2 weeks. Everytime you use it, you can top off with oil if the level goes below the vegetables in the jar.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, large, peeled
1/2 large onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, grated (cooks faster)
2 twigs of rosemary
4 twigs or summer savory or thyme
handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups water
salt and pepper as needed
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. When ready, saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic for about 15 minutes until soft. Add the fennel, pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.
Crush the peeled tomatoes and add the pulp and juice to the pot. Tie the rosemary and summer savory/thyme with a piece of string and submerge into the mixture. Add the water and basil leaves and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat. Reduce to low and simmer until the mixture has thickened.
Remove from heat, let cool and then puree in a processor. If the sauce is too thick, add some water and bring it back to a boil before canning. If too thin, reduce to required consistency. I refrigerate it as soon as it cools to room temperature, even if unopened.