Nothing is more local than home grown, yet with so many chefs planting their own gardens and locally focused, there is always the inevitable August question..."This garden is awesome, but now what do I do with all this produce?".
It really is as simple as going back to when local and seasonal was not a trend, but a fact of life. Before we figured out how to serve asparagus year round, we used to pickle, preserve, and can abundant harvests for use all year. I am seeing more of that in our hotels, especially with vegetables and herbs. When basil is growing like a summer weed, puree the excess into a pesto to be frozen in small batches.
Other ways of showcasing a local harvest is to pickle and use vegetables in place of bar snacks and normally protein based appetizers. Here, at a recent customer event in our Test Kitchen, we pickled a few vegetables for passed hors d'oeuvres instead of traditional canapes. Using an old barn board with cut wires to hold the vegetables mid-air, it creates a pretty dramatic way to display previously boring crudites. We do this with a quick pickle, perfect for when the produce is flowing and you want to just mix it up a bit .
Quick Pickle Recipe
1 pound fresh vegetables, evenly cut or sliced
1 cup champagne or cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tbl Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Agave Syrup
1 tsp aromatic seeds of choice (black pepper, mustard, fennel, coriander, etc)
Method: Bring the brine liquid to a boil for 2 minutes, pour over the cut vegetables to cover completely. Place in a stainless steel or glass container, refrigerate overnight for use the next day. Enjoy and store refrigerated for up to one month.
Do try this at home!