Marinated Root Vegetables

The element that drew me to this recipe was that the vegetables are briefly cooked in the marinade. The hot marinade infuses the vegetables with its essence, intensifying the flavor considerably. Don’t overcook the vegetables, you want some crispness or crunch. For me, 8 minutes was the right amount of time. While the vegetables are excellent eaten after a short marinade, they’re even better the next and following days. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

1/2 c water
1/2 c white wine or rice vinegar
1/2 c white wine, vermouth, sake, white grape juice, or apple juice
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 T fresh, coarsely chopped parsley or other fresh herb
1 t fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 t dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
3 – 4 c sliced root vegetables, in batons or rounds
1 t prepared mustard

1. Combine all ingredients except root vegetables and mustard in a saucepan that can hold the vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Carefully add prepared vegetables. Cook, uncovered, until just barely tender, or to your own preference. Drain vegetables, reserving cooking liquid.

2. Put cooked vegetables in a serving bowl or other suitable container. Add mustard to cooking liquid, whisking to combine. Pour over vegetables, stirring to coat the vegetables. Allow to marinate for at least an hour before serving. Or cool completely, refrigerate, covered, overnight. Bring out about an hour before serving (though they’re good cold, too).

Soy Sauce-Pickled Root Vegetables

This has become my favorite pickle. Contrary to its title, the vegetables are not overly salty. There is a distinct soy sauce flavor, but as the vegetables remain in the soy sauce for a short time, they are not overly saturated with saltiness. At least not to my palate. Instead of soy sauce you can use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, which will cut down on the sodium level. Or you can combine half water and half soy sauce. The vegetables undergo a brief salt/sugar brine which draws out liquid. You can drain this liquid or keep it and add the soy sauce to it. The drained soy sauce can be reused for more pickles or in cooking. The vegetables will keep for months in the refrigerator, if they last that long!

2 c root vegetables, sliced into strips or rounds
1/2 t salt
2 t sugar
soy sauce, to cover

1. Put vegetables in a jar. Add salt and sugar. Put a lid on the jar and gently shake so that the salt and sugar coat the vegetables. Let sit at room temperature anywhere from an hour to 8 hours, shaking the jar now and then to keep the vegetables coated with the brine.

2. Drain off the liquid if you like. Pour in enough soy sauce to cover the vegetables. Crumple some wax paper or freezer paper and lay on top of the vegetables, to keep them submerged. Allow to pickle at room temperature for 24 hours. If some of the vegetables pieces break the surface of the soy sauce, press them down.

3. Drain off the soy sauce. Store the pickles in the jar in or another, covered container. Keep refrigerated when not eating.

Pickled Winter Squash

I’m coming to the conclusion that one can pickle anything. Even winter squash. The process is simple, and the result delicious! The most difficult part is cutting up and peeling, or peeling and cutting up the squash. Most pickling recipes I researched used butternut, mainly, I believe, because it peels so easily. There are multitudes of variation in winter squash pickling–raw or steamed, sweet, sour, sweet-and-sour, spicy, herbed, plain. Here’s a recipe I like making because it’s not overly sweet.

3 c or so peeled, seeded, fibers removed, diced winter squash
1 fresh or dried chile, sliced or not, seeds removed or not
1 garlic clove, optional
1 bay leaf
1/2 c vinegar–apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red win vinegar, rice vinegar…
1/2 c water
1/2 – 1 t black peppercorns
1/2 t mustard seeds
1 t sugar
2 t kosher salt

1. Put diced squash, chile, garlic, and bay leaf in a quart or liter jar, or other glass container with a lid.

2. Combine the vinegar, water, peppercorns, mustard seeds, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and gently heat, just until the sugar and salt have dissolved. You shouldn’t have to bring it to the boil to accomplish this.

3. Pour pickling liquid into the jar to cover the squash. Leave an inch headspace. Let cool to room temperature. If the squash refuses to stay submerged, crumple some waxed or parchment paper and stuff in the headspace. Put a lid on and refrigerate for a week before eating.

Cabbage, Carrot, and Winter Radish Kim Chi

More fermented goodness. Use either napa cabbage or green cabbage, though with green you’re more in kraut territory (still good!). This kim chi starts with a brine rather than the other method in which you create a brine by compressing the vegetables until they release enough liquid to cover themselves. The method here is less arduous.

4 T sea or kosher salt (not iodized salt)
1 quart room temperature or slightly warm non-chlorinated water
4 c sliced or thickly shredded Napa or green cabbage
1 large carrot, sliced
1 c peeled, sliced or chopped daikon or other winter radish
4 garlic gloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 T peeled, grated or minced fresh ginger
1 – 2 fresh or dried hot peppers, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, thinly sliced
2 T Korean red chile powder, optional

1. In a large, non-reactive bowl, dissolve salt in water. Add the cabbage, carrot, and winter radish. Cover with a plate. Put a heavy weight in a plastic bag (I used a gallon jug or gallon ziploc bag filled with water) and lay it on the plate. This will ensure the vegetable are submerged. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

2. Remove the weight and plate. Drain the vegetables in a colander, reserving the brine. Return the vegetables to the bowl and stir in the garlic, ginger, hot peppers, and chile powder, if using. Toss well.

3. Either keep the vegetables in the bowl or tightly pack in a wide-mouth quart jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine to cover. You may need to put the plate back over to keep the vegetables in the brine. If using the jar, you may need to stuff in a wad of wax paper to keep the vegetables submerged. Cover loosely and allow to ferment in a cool place for 5 days, adding more of the reserved brine as needed to keep the vegetables covered.

4. After 5 days, drain off the brine, cover tightly, and refrigerate the (now) kim chi.

Brined Greens

This is a simple fermentation, using just salt and water, specifically a 5% brine solution. It’s still a pickle, though to me, that often means a brine with vinegar. You can use any greens here, and if you like, you could chop up some roots and add them to the jar. I usually just go with greens, some garlic, and a hot pepper or two. It needs to sit out at room temperature for a week, preferably in a room where the temperature is between 70 and 78ºF, which is considered the ideal brining temperature. If you live in an environment hotter than this, you’ll have to ferment the greens in the fridge; if the air temperature is cooler, then you may need to let the jar sit out a couple of days longer (or not). I enjoy these greens alongside meals.

4 1/2 c water
10 t (or 3 T plus 1 t) kosher or sea salt (don’t used iodized salt)
1 large bunch greens, or as need to fill a quart jar, stemmed if necessary, coarsely chopped
chopped garlic, optional
fresh hot pepper or hot pepper flakes, optional
chopped roots, optional

1. Bring water and salt to the boil or to the point where the salt has totally dissolved into the water. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

2. Cram or stuff greens into a clean, sterilized (if you like) one-quart jar, along with any of the optional vegetables. You want to fill the jar leaving a good inch of headspace.

3. Pour the cooled brine over the greens. You will notice that the greens will float and move into the headspace area. Prevent this by taking a wad of wax paper or saran wrap and jamming it into the mouth of the jar, submerging the greens. Reserve cooled brine. Keep in a jar at room temperature to top off the jar of greens, if necessary, during the week-long fermentation.

4. Loosely cap the jar. This will allow carbon dioxide to escape and prevent brine overflow/explosion. Or, put the cap on tightly but remember to loosen once or twice a day to allow the gas to escape.

5. Check the appearance of the brine in the greens jar. If it’s clear, clear with green coloring from the greens, all is well. If it’s cloudy, then bacteria has invaded and it’s best to discard the contents and begin anew.

6. Refrigerate after the 7 day fermentation. It’s good to eat now and will continue to ferment, though more slowly, in the fridge.

Carrot and Radish Pickle (Oshinko)

Oshinko is a pressed pickle, that is, a weight is placed on the brined vegetables. The process, for this recipe at least, takes three days, resulting in a crispy, salty fermented pickle. Any number of vegetables can be used here in any combination, or alone. I usually have a batch of these going on in  my kitchen. Try to use glass or ceramic containers for the pickling–plastic can give the pickles an off taste, and stainless steel gets pockmarked by the salt.

3 c or so sliced or chopped radishes and carrots
3 T kosher or sea salt (don’t use iodized salt, it prevents fermentation)
4 t unseasoned rice vinegar or other vinegar
4 t sake, dry vermouth, or dry sherry, optional

1. Put vegetables in a bowl, preferably a shallow one or at least one wide enough to accommodate a plate plus the weight. Add salt, vinegar and sake, if using. Combine.

2. Cover with a layer of wax paper or plastic wrap. Fill a gallon-sized storage bag with water and put it on the layer of wax paper or plastic wrap. Or, you can find a plate or bowl that will sit on top and put a weighty object, such as filled can(s) or bottle(s) on that. The storage bag is a lot easier to deal with, plus it’s malleable.

3. Set aside in a cool place, not near any kind of heat source. Temperatures above 80ºF can cause spoilage. Over the next three days, drain any liquid from the bottom of the bowl. After the third day, they’re ready. Store in the fridge, in a covered container.