Though the weather is warming up, I’m still in winter mode—protective and desperate over every shred of sunlight I can get. I’ve been spending all of my evenings and weekends soaking up the sun outside in the garden, hiking, with friends, even when the temperatures start to dip in the evenings. The garden especially has taken up a bit of my free time since our new digs came with a lot of overgrown shrubs, supersonic vines, and weeds galore (don’t underestimate the value of a well-manicured yard if you’re house hunting!). Little time has been leftover for cooking and grocery shopping. Enter light, simple meals.
This week I found a trove of gherkins (small pickling cucumbers) at my local grocery store—and though they’re not quite in season, I couldn’t resist and snagged a whole bunch for pickling. I like to munch on these when they’ve just barely started pickling, so I get a lot at a time—a great light, crunchy snack!
For a quick lunch, I served these pickles with some open-faced sandwiches—farmer’s cheese on toasted rustic whole wheat bread, topped with thinly sliced radishes. Add chopped radish greens, lemon zest, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. These would also be great served with a soft boiled egg on the side for a savory breakfast or as crostini for an appetizer.
Less cooking time = more playtime. Please excuse my squinty-eyes. Go enjoy those first moments of blissful sunshine! Recipes below.
Zesty Homemade Dill Pickles in Brine
20 – 30 Gherkins
6 Large Garlic Cloves, Peeled
4 Bay Leaves
8 – 10 Whole Black Peppercorns
3 1-inch Sections of Horseradish Root (Peeled)
1 Bunch Fresh Dill
4 Quarts Water
4 Tablespoons Salt
Clean the pickling cucumbers to remove any dirt or stems. Place one layer in a large pot or glass container (I used a large heavy bottomed pot). Place garlic cloves, bay leaves, horseradish root, and peppercorns interspersed between the cucumbers. Add the remaining cucumbers. Cover cucumbers with fresh dill. Bring salt and water to a boil to combine. Let cool to room temperature. Pour salt water mixture over cucumbers. Cover. Let sit for at least 12 hours and enjoy! (The longer you wait, the more pickled they are!)
Rustic Whole Wheat Toast with Radishes
2 Slices Whole Wheat Bread
2 Tablespoons Farmer’s Cheese
2 Radishes with Greens
2 Teaspoons Lemon Zest
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Toast the bread. While the bread is toasting, clean and thinly slice radishes (or use a mandolin). Clean the radish greens and finely chop. Spread farmer’s cheese on each slice of toast. Place a layer of radishes on the farmer’s cheese and top with chopped greens and lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sides for a quick lunch, with an egg for breakfast, or cut into small squares to enjoy as an appetizer.