Recipes for your consideration
Time to prep for winter! Pickle, can, freeze and dry. Keep it local, even in the Great White North!
Aji Colorado Paste
Traditional South American condiment, but useful flavor addition to many dishes. Full of rich flavor, medium heat.
Makes about 14 tablespoons or 1 ice cube tray’s worth
1 # Aji Colorado chiles
Sun-dry or dehydrate chilis until shrunken and crispy.
Use kitchen shears to lop off the stems of the dried chiles and then cut all along the side, lengthwise, exposing the innards and discarding the seeds and membranes. Grab a large fry pan and set it over high heat. Toss the chiles onto the hot pan and toast until fragrant, pliable, and slightly charred, about 1-2 minutes, flipping on other side halfway in between. It might be a good idea to open up the window and turn on the exhaust fan because these can get sort of strong as they cook. Also, wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water immediately after handling the chiles.
Put the chiles into a large bowl and pour enough boiling water to submerge them. Let them reconstitute until they’re very soft, about 10 minutes.
Grab the chiles with tongs and put them in a blender. Add about 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the water they were sitting in and blend together until a somewhat smooth paste forms. The consistency should be pourable. If it’s too chunky, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
At this point you can either put all of it into a glass jar and refrigerate it, which should last you a couple weeks.
Or, put them into ice cube trays, freeze them, and then dump them out into a bag to stash in the freezer for whenever you need just a bit. You don’t even have to defrost it before adding it to your pot of cooking, you just toss it right in. Unless, you’re using it as a marinade, in which case you’d have to toss it in the microwave for half a minute to soften slightly.
Braised green lentils
I’ve adapted this recipe a bit, but it remains full-flavored, healthy and somewhat spicy! Pretty simple too.
Makes a huge pot o’ lentils, enough for at least 8 people with extra to freeze
1 pound Tofurky Kielbasa, cut in half and again and then cut into quarter moons
1 yellow onion, cut in half then into half moons
4 garlic cloves, minced
Canola oil, if needed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Aji Colorado paste
2 pounds dry green lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock/broth
4 cups water
Steamed white rice, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Hot giardinera pickled vegetable mix (I love Potbelly’s ready-made bottled variety), to serve
Curly parsley, to garnish
In a large pot or dutch oven set over medium heat, brown the Tofurky kielbasa in olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, stirring. Let this cook down slightly, about a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and mix. Add in the ají colorado and let this melt into the onion-garlic mixture, about half a minute. Pour in a smidge of vegetable stock, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan so you can scrape up the brownings.
Then, toss in the rinsed lentils and mix to coat with the saucy goodness in the pot. Dump in the chopped tomatoes, kielbasa, and pour the rest of the vegetable stock plus water over the whole thing. Cover and let this come to a boil. When this happens, stir again and change the heat to low, covering, and checking every 15 minutes or so to see if it needs more water. If the lentils still haven’t softened and the liquid is getting low, add another cup or two of water to alleviate. It should take about 45 minutes for the lentils to cook all the way through. Taste and augment seasonings per preference.
Serving option: alongside white rice with lime, parsley, and an ample dose of hot giardinera right on top. The piquant acid and gentle heat from the pickled vegetables really ignites the whole dish, whetting the palate and provoking for just one more bite (or two, or three…).
Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles Recipe
They are easy and right there in the fridge for sandwiches, burgers and a quick snack!
2 lb. pickling cucumbers, sliced no less than 1/8 inch thick
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
Place cucumbers, onion, and salt in a large strainer/colander and mix well. Place strainer in the sink where excess water will drain for one hour.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large sauce pan, over med-high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add cucumbers and onion to the pan, place a dish on top of the mixture to keep the contents submerged, cover the pan, and simmer for about 5 – 7 minutes.
Place the mixture in sterile jars and allow to cool a bit before covering and placing in the refrigerator.
Best when served fully chilled. Pickles will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
To can them, follow the above instructions. Once the jars have been filled with lids and tops in place, though not sealed tightly, place them in a boiling water bath deep enough to cover the jars by at least an inch. Leave them to process for 10 minutes before removing them to a cloth-covered surface, where they should remain undisturbed for 24 hours. At the end of that time, test to make sure each has sealed and store in a cool, dark place. Those that haven’t sealed properly must be immediately refrigerated and used with the next few weeks.
Chicago Giardiniera Recipe
A spicy pickled vegetable condiment/antipasta for adding a crunch to sandwiches, a kick to stews or a tang to a savory bean dish. The vegetable variety can vary according to what’s available.
8 jalapeños, chopped (for different heat and flavor, other chili peppers may be substituted)
1/2 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 sweet banana peppers, diced (or other flavorful sweet, like paprika)
1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp celery seeds
black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
Combine vegetables and salt. Add enough water to cover, stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Strain vegetables from brine, rinse well, and set aside.
In a large glass bowl, add garlic and remaining seasonings.
To that bowl, add the vinegars and stir until well-mixed. Whisk the solution while adding the oils.
Add the reserved, brined vegetables into the bowl and gently mix until well-coated.
At this point, the giardiniera may be left, covered, in the bowl or transferred to clean jars. Either way, it must be refrigerated for 48 hours before serving.
Because this giardiniera isn’t canned, it must be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a few weeks.