Not for the Faint of Spicy Heart
As promised a few posts back, I’m offering another recipe for using up the summer abundance of squash and zucchini. Over the past week or so, the farm has harvested more than 300 pounds of the stuff! It’s been hard to keep up with harvesting it…a squash the size of the one in the picture above will quickly go from “too-small-to-pick-just-yet” to “much-larger-than-we-want-to-sell” in about two short days. It’s rather awe inspiring to see something literally grow before your eyes. Beats watching grass grow or paint dry any day!
Away from the farm I’m a confessed food blog junkie who has been reading a lot of other bloggers’ posts about pickling. It’s funny how “trends” start in the food blogging world – one inspires another. Hey, wait up! I want to jump on the band wagon too! Especially now that I have a mandoline to slice everything so quickly and thinly.
When Farmer Dave handed me two gi-normous summer squash and asked me what I thought I could do with them, I immediately decided to try pickling them. I had stumbled upon a recipe for such just the day before when browsing the web page of one of my favorite radio programs, “The Splendid Table”. Granted, this recipe was going to push my boundaries, which seems to be happening a lot since I started blogging. I feel a continuous tug to provide something unusual and equally colorful for you folks to mentally munch on when stopping by for a visit. Thus, I took a leap of faith, and delved into a recipe that is both new to me in subject matter (pickled squash) and aggressive spices (i.e., HOT).
Not one to typically included any hot peppers in my cooking, I was intrigued by the selection of adorable colorful mini peppers available in my grocery store. In another week or two, the farm will have some hot peppers of its own which I’ll be sure to use. Since I was eager to try this recipe, I couldn’t wait for them though. When I got my three cutie peppers home, I soon found out they packed a powerful hot punch. I was the careful cook and washed my hands after slicing them, but later forgot after I tossed the veggie mixture with my hands. I realized my mistake when a spot on my forehead that I’d scratched started to immediately burn. In other words, remember to wash your hands at ever stage of handling the peppers. But you already knew that because you probably use hot peppers all the time. I’ll surely remember for next time.
The final product of this particular pickling is certainly both sweet and curried – shockingly so. Since I’m a fan of the warm spices of Indian food but not such a fan of the fiery heat of hot peppers, I believe my next batch will include only one pepper. If you like serious heat on your taste buds, make these pickles as-is, and you’ll be in heaven. Since they do have such an intense bright flavor and crisp firm texture, I’m sure they’d do well as a “palate cleanser” during a heavy meal. But I’m still searching for the best way to serve them. Do any of you have ideas for appropriate main dishes to place these spicy squash pickles along side? I’d appreciate any suggestions as I have a lot of these pickles and can only eat one bite of them on their own. At this rate, the two quarts will last me until Columbus Day.
SWEET AND HOT CURRIED SQUASH PICKLES
Adapted from The Splendid Table
3 pounds (about 3 medium) summer squash and/or zucchini, cut into very thin rounds
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into thin rounds
3 small colorful chili peppers, seeds removed and cut into thin rounds
1/4 c. sea salt
2 3/4 c. distilled white vinegar
3/4 c. sherry cooking wine
1 1/2 c. orange juice
2 c. sugar
2 T. prepared curry powder
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. whole allspice berries
1 t. whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 inch of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
In a large plastic or ceramic mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, onions, chilies, and salt, and let stand for an hour. Stir the bowl’s contents once or twice during the hour. Drain and rinse thoroughly to remove the salt and set aside.
In a large nonreactive saucepan (generally any pan with a nonstick coating will work; be sure to avoid aluminum pots), bring all the remaining ingredients except the ginger to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice to be sure the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over the squash mixture, amply covering all the vegetables. Add the ginger to the bowl and stir.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in air tight containers or jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving. Pickles will keep covered in refrigerator for up to a month.
(makes 2 quarts)