I am running a new recipe below, for Neon Pickled Squash, even though what I really want to do is run the recipe for Bean Feast again. Because I’ve run it before, I know, but I cannot overemphasize the staple-ness of this recipe at my house. We have it at least every other week, if not weekly. And it’s almost always pinto beans, but sometimes I mix it up with black beans, because we’re crazy like that. If you are too lazy to click over to the link, the idea is that you cook up a perfect pot of plain beans, in your pressure cooker, with plenty of salt. I start with 2 or 3 cups of dried beans, a handful of salt, and water to generously cover; bring it to a boil, shut off the heat, leave for an our; cook at high pressure for 8 minutes (6 for black beans), then let the steam release on its own.
|A perfectly doctored bowl. I sliced the squash pickles into planks.|
A pressure cooker yields beans that are perfectly tender and creamy inside, while remaining unmushy. You can bite them, and the skins are intact, but they middles are soft. I can’t even explain how wonderful they are; you simply can’t achieve this level of bean perfection with regular boiling, and believe me, I tried for years. (If you have a newfangled Magic Pot, please let me know what you think.)
|The classic Bean Feast. Photo credit Ben Newman.|
Then you serve everyone a glorious dishful of steaming beans (with or without rice, as you prefer) and put out an assortment yummy and attractive DIY toppings such as:
· Escabeche and/or pickled jalapenos
· Pickled radishes and/or squash (below)
· Crumbled feta or shredded cheddar or Jack
· A little cruet (!) of tasty olive oil
· Coarse salt
· Lime wedges
· Hot sauce, including something smoky
· Diced avocado
· Slivered cabbage or romaine lettuce
· Cilantro leaves
· Chopped white or red onions
· Sour cream
You are going for maximum flavor, color, texture, nutrition, so assort the toppings accordingly.
|From the New Yorker. . . amiright|
But if you’re really here just for the pickled squash, and a bean feast isn’t even in your future, you’re still in luck. Because these are wonderful pickles—sweet-and-sour and good on a sandwich or burger, in a quesadilla, with cheese and crackers, or right out of the jar—and they’re easy to make. Plus, you’re not canning them, so you don’t even need to lie awake listening for pings and fretting about botulism and imagining gravestones that say "Thanks for the pickles." Just stick them in the fridge, like a normal person.
|Beauty x 4|
Meanwhile, thank you to everyone—all of you parents and readers and teachers and librarians—who already bought One Mixed-Up Night, blogged about it, ordered it for your school or library, read it to your kids, reviewed it on Amazon or Goodreads, requested it at your local bookstore, wrote to me about it, and recommended it. Those things all help books sales SO MUCH! Also, there is a movement afoot to leave copies of the book in IKEA stores as a form of guerrilla book publicity. Please stay tuned for more on that, or go rogue, and sneak a copy into your local IKEA and enjoy my eternal gratitude. Also, if you send me photos, I will post them here!
For you grown-ups out there, I just finished this book, which I loved, and am reading this book now, which I am loving. Oh, reading. It really is a haven in a heartless world. Stay safe, beloved readers and resisters and dreamers and Floridians. Love to you all. xo
|Trombetta, c/o Renees Garden seed company|
Neon Pickled Squash
This is adapted from the recipe for Zucchini Pickles in the wonderful book preserving book Put ‘Em Up. The pickles are crazily yellow and perfectly seasoned—bread-and-butterish, but spicier and less sweet. Also, the ice treatment keeps them nice and crunchy. I make these every September because my friend Meredith grows these enormous crookneck Trombetta squash that are so enormous and so crooknecked they look like green pythons that have swallowed swans. They are very firm and lovely, though, and they make wonderful pickles. You use, like, half of one to get two pounds of slices. Seriously. Then you keep the other half in the fridge and saw away at it intermittently, like it's a gigantic and bland vegetarian salami.
2 pounds summer squash (crookneck, zucchini, or the ginormous trombetta), sliced into ¼-inch rounds
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 tray of ice cubes
½ cup kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 small red chili or 1 teaspoon pepper flakes (if you like spicy pickles)
In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and onions with the salt, then crack the ice over it and add just enough cold water to cover. Leave it for two hours, then drain it, fish out any unmelted ice, and use your clean hands to pack the veggies into a large, very clean 2-quart jar (or several smaller jars). (The original recipe has you rinse the squash, but I find the salt amount to be more perfect if it’s unrinsed. Up to you!)
Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, then pour over the squash in the jar(s). Use a canning funnel if you have one. And if you don’t have one, buy a canning funnel, for god’s sake. You will use it everyday to fill lunchbox thermoses, and you will wonder what you were thinking, not having one.
Once the pickles are cool, store them in the fridge, where they will keep indefinitely.