Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jewels in a Jar -So Easy Refrigerator "Pickles"

Add some of the "pickles"
to lettuce, splash on some
"pickle juice", drizzle some
olive oil over it - yummy salad!
 Several months ago, I picked up a cookbook, Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee, at a Borders going out of business sale.  They had a whole chapter on "fresh" pickles and sang their praises about how fabulous they are to put out as an appetizer or to serve as a side dish. They had some pretty interesting combos such as grapes with rosemary and cucumbers with lemon.  A few weeks later, I took the girls up to little town about an hour north of us where an old school friend of Jenn's, Brittany, was in beauty school.  She needed to get some "practicum" hours on real human heads and the price was right, so away we went.  While I was waiting, I thumbed through a bunch of magazines.  In one, decorators sounded off on how they entertain.  Fruit and vegetable pickles were mentioned as a way to adorn tables like "jewels in jar".  I decided to give it a try.  I had always wanted to make giardiniera, Italian style pickled vegetables, but all the recipes I ever looked at involved boiling the ingredients first and sealing them in jars. Too much work!  I decided to try to make it Lee brother style, and the results were great!  It lasts in the refrigerator forever (even after three weeks, the vegetables were crisp and crunchy) and it is so much cheaper to make it rather than buy it at the store in a jar.  I have used it as part of a tapas spread, in an antipasto platter, in New Orleans muffuletta sandwiches, and it really kicks it up as part of an Italian salad.  But what is really great is how quick and easy it is to make!  The recipe follows the pictures below.
                                Steps to make quick and easy refrigerator "pickles"

1. Slice or cut up your choice of vegetables into bite size pieces

2.  Heat up vinegar and spices

3.  Place the cut up vegetables in a jar, or leave them in the bowl.

4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables

     My Favorite Vegetable Pickles
1/4 head of cauliflower
1 small white onion
2 large carrots
1 large red pepper
1 large cucumber
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small bit of "heat" - a small seeded jalapeno, dried hot red, or red flakes of pepper
Cut the cauliflower in bite size pieces. Peel carrots, slice in half lengthwise, then half lengthwise again, and cut each piece into thirds. Core and seed the red pepper and cut it into large square like pieces. Cut the cucumber lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again. Scoop out the seeds and cut each piece into thirds. Peel the onion and cut it into eighths.
Place the vegetables in a bowl and gently mix them up. Either leave them in the bowl or put the vegetable mixture into glass jars.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat to a boil.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables a bit at a time, let them cool a few minutes, and them store them in the refrigerator.
Great in an antipasta salad!

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