Everyone knows that tomatoes from the garden taste the best. They are warm, sweet and taste like sunshine on a plate. Nothing you can buy in the grocery store can come close to tomatoes you grow yourself.
This year, we are growing cucumbers for the first time, and I have discovered that the same is true of them. Usually, I can take or leave cucumbers. But the cucumbers from our garden actually have flavor. They are cool, crisp and herbaceous, great with just a touch of salt or lightly pickled. After eating my own homegrown cucumbers, I think I’ll have to give up supermarket cukes altogether.
My favorite way to prepare cucumbers is to marinate the slices in vinegar and seasonings. I keep a bowl of these “pickles” in the fridge and snack on them guilt-free before dinner or throw them into salads. This isn’t a recipe so much as a set of guidelines. Feel free to experiment.
Lightly Pickled Cucumbers
Peel and slice the cucumbers. For 1 lb. of cucumber slices, combine 2 cups water and 1 cup white wine vinegar. Add 1 tbsp. coarse salt plus fresh dill, hot red pepper flakes and sliced garlic, as desired. Let the cucumbers marinate at least 1 hour. Keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
If I have too many cucumbers to eat fresh, I plan to make freezer pickles. Here’s a recipe from Sidewalk Shoes.
Marinated mushrooms are a natural for the antipasto platter. This technique uses the mushroom’s own juices for the marinade, so that the mushrooms are infused with mushroomy-lemony-garlicky flavor. Take it easy with the garlic, though, because it’s all too easy to make a batch overwhelmed with the flavor, as I discovered when I made them for h’ors d’oeuvres this weekend. These would also make a nice garnish or salad ingredient. The mushrooms will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. (Adapted from a recipe published in Cook’s Illustrated magazine.)
Serves: Many people
Time to make: 15 minutes to cook; at least 6 hours to marinate
- 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and halved or quartered
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- hot red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice plus more to taste
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced (or to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil with red pepper flakes to taste over medium. Add the mushrooms and lemon juice. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their juices and are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Mix in a bowl with the garlic. Season, cover and let marinate for 6-24 hours. Before serving, bring to room temperature; taste and add the additional tablespoon of olive oil and additional lemon juice as needed.