Fresh Garden Pickles with Aioli
- 1 medium cucumber, cut into 16 spears
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 asparagus spears
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and halved
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 16 slices
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 16 slices
- 2 tablespoons pressed or finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- Aioli, recipe follows
In a mixing bowl, toss the cucumbers with salt to coat, then cover with ice cubes and refrigerate. After 1 to 2 hours, drain, rinse thoroughly, and strain to remove excess water. Set aside.
In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus, carrots, peppers, onions, and garlic and saute for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, oregano, thyme, and peppercorns and gently toss to combine.
Return the saute pan to medium heat, and add the vinegars, sugar, fennel seeds, and bay leaves. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Pour the syrup over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. These pickles are best a few days after they have been made, but can be eaten after chilling just a few hours.Aioli:
1 slice French bread
1/4 cup milk
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cold water
In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 10 minutes. Squeeze the bread and break into small pieces.
In another small bowl, beat together the yolks, salt, and garlic. Add the soaked bread and mix until incorporated.
While beating the yolk mixture, slowly drizzle in the oil until a thick sauce is formed. Beat in the lemon juice and water. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
Recipe courtesy Alexandra and Eliot Angle, Cocktail Parties with a Twist, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2002