Brined tomatoes, cucumbers or asparagus pair well with seared fish, or make a tangy addition to salads

Intro by Pam George  Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the July 2014 issue

PickledPlethora-byScottNathanPickling and preserving were once the purview of farmers and avid vegetable gardeners. No longer. Pickling is a hot food trend for 2014, according to two surveys: Allrecipes.com’s “The Measuring Cup Trend Report” and the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2014.”

Krista Scudlark, owner of Milton-based Backyard Jams and Jellies, has witnessed the popularity firsthand. “I can’t keep my bread-and-butter pickles in stock,” says Scudlark, who uses her father’s recipe. Some customers order by the case.

As of May, Milton-based Dogfish Head had gone through 97 5-gallon buckets of its branded pickles, sold at the company’s Rehoboth brewpub and from its food truck. (Each bucket holds 213 servings.) “And we haven’t even hit peak season,” says Mariah Calagione, vice president of the microbrewery. That tally does not include the packaged Dogfish Head pickles sold in Whole Foods and other stores.

 At the Matt Haley Companies, which has eight coastal restaurants, pickling is as routine as making soups. “We pickle anything when it’s in season,” says corporate chef Doug Ruley. “We’ve pickled ramps, green beans and asparagus, which we use in bloody marys in summertime. We also pickle a medley of carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash and onion.”

As tomatoes come into season, Ruley likes to pickle baby heirloom tomatoes. Use them as a bed for seared fish or toss with greens in a salad. This recipe is for refrigerated pickles. Use within two weeks.

Doug Ruley's Spicy Pickled Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

2    pints — about four cups, depending on the tomatoes’ size — of mixed baby heirloom tomatoes (can substitute cherry or grape tomatoes)
1    tablespoon of sea salt
1    teaspoon of fresh coarsely ground black pepper
½   cup of olive oil
4    minced shallots
3    Thai peppers, thinly sliced (can substitute your favorite hot pepper — serrano or jalapeno — or leave out the peppers)
1    teaspoon of toasted ground brown mustard seeds
1    teaspoon of toasted ground coriander seeds
1    ounce of fresh lemon juice
1    ounce of organic apple cider vinegar
3    tablespoons of ground palm sugar or brown sugar
½   cup of fresh chopped mint
½   cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
½   cup of basil

Slice the tomatoes in half, and place them in a large bowl. Season them with salt and pepper. In a small pan, heat oil to medium heat. Add shallots and Thai peppers. Cook for a minute. Add coriander and mustard seeds. Heat for another minute, stirring. Let the mix cool slightly before whisking in the juice, vinegar and sugar. Pour the mixture over the reserved tomatoes. Add herbs, and let the tomatoes sit for an hour at room temperature. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

 

Spiced Seared Tuna

(Serves four)

4    7-ounce tuna fillets
1    tablespoon of fennel seed
1    tablespoon of whole coriander
1    tablespoon of whole black peppercorn
1    ounce of canola oil
1    pinch of sea salt

Heat a nonstick pan to medium heat and add spices. Toast, jiggling the pan frequently, for only a minute. Do not let the spices burn. When cool, grind the spices in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle to grind by hand. Liberally rub the spice blend on both sides of the tuna. Heat another nonstick pan to medium heat. Add oil. Sear tuna on the first side for about two minutes. Flip and sear for one minute. The tuna should be rare. Slice the tuna and arrange atop the pickled tomatoes. Dust with sea salt and serve. Garnish with micro-greens, arugula or clipped herbs.

Canning Guides

Ball, the maker of the signature jars for pickling and preserving, offers step-by-step canning guides on its website, freshpreserving.com.