Modern Quick Pickle Relish
Makes 3 1/4 cups.
Note: Fresh fruit and vegetable relishes are nothing new, but mixing up savory cucumber and raw corn with the natural sweetness of stone fruit offers a crisp freshness that is a great counterpoint to grilled brats or platter of juicy chicken breasts. A sprinkle of Tajin seasoning, a trademarked blend of dried red chiles and dehydrated lime, brightens things up. Find the seasoning at Hispanic markets and Festival Foods. Substitute coarse chili powder with a bit of lime zest. From Lisa Golden Schroeder.
• 1 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh nectarines or plums
• 1 c. finely chopped cucumber (any small ones will do)
• 1/2 c. raw corn, sliced off the cob
• 1/4 c. finely chopped green or red onion
• 1 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. Tajin seasoning or to taste (see Note)
• Chopped fresh basil, as desired
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Spiced Beet and Berry Ketchup
Makes 3 cups.
Note: Beets make a stellar sweet-and-sour sauce, calling for just a slight perk-up of warming spices and a hint of fresh ginger. Be sure to save the fresh beet stems and greens; you can chop them up and sauté in a garlicky olive oil with fresh corn or zucchini. Garam masala is an Indian blend of spices that can be found at many supermarkets, specialty and spice shops. From Lisa Golden Schroeder.
• 2 1/2 lb. red beets with tops (about 6 medium), trimmed, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 1 c. blueberries, raspberries or wild gooseberries
• 1/4 c. chopped onion
• 1 c. apple cider vinegar
• 1/3 c. packed brown sugar or honey
• 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
• 1 tsp. garam masala (see Note)
• 3/4 c. water, or as needed
Mix beets, berries, onion, vinegar, sugar and ginger in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes or until beets are tender.
Remove from heat; stir in garam masala. Purée the mixture in a food processor fit with the metal blade until smooth, gradually adding as much water as you’d like to get a desired consistency. Cool. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Makes 3 tablespoons.
Note: A gremolata is an Italian garnish for a winter dish of richly braised veal shanks. Traditionally it’s a combination of grated lemon zest, chopped flat-leaf parsley and freshly chopped garlic, but it can be endlessly varied with different herbs and varieties of citrus zest, which makes it a terrific final touch for summery grilled poultry, fish or meat. Prepping a gremolata is a simple exercise in good knife skills if you’re comfortable with a large chopping knife: Place torn sprigs of whatever fresh herbs you’re using on your cutting board, along with pieces of citrus zest (remove it with a vegetable peeler or zester) and the garlic clove. Start chopping everything together at the same time, until it’s a texture that can be easily sprinkled over the meat. Add some salt and pepper if you like. From Lisa Golden Schroeder.
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, basil, sage, cilantro, tarragon, mint and/or oregano
• 2 tsp. grated lemon or lime zest
• 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
• Pinch of coarse salt
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Finely chop all ingredients together by hand or in a small food processor. Sprinkle immediately over grilled food.
Balsamic Onion Conserve With Cherries
Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Note: Onions are always available at market stands this time of year — generous bunches of freshly plucked yellow or red varieties that are just the right partners for grilled meats or poultry. Cherries are appearing, too, in the markets. From Lisa Golden Schroeder.
• 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
• 2 large onions, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick slices
• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 c. amber craft beer, cream stout or malty porter
• 1/2 c. dried cherries or fresh sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• Fresh thyme leaves, to taste
• Chopped pistachios, if desired
Heat oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in beer and cherries. Cook, uncovered, 15 to 18 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cool. Serve with grilled meats, sprinkled with thyme and pistachios.
Char-Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
Makes 3 cups.
Note: Tomatillos, which are husked ground tomatoes grown in Mexico, have a tart freshness when used raw in a salsa or salad, but take on a more mellow flavor if roasted on the grill. If you’re using them uncooked, remove the papery husks and rinse off the sticky film that coats the fruit. In this recipe, you peel off the husk after grilling, and then chop them or speed up the prep by pulsing the roasted ingredients in a food processor (but leave the texture a bit chunky). Find roasted and salted pepitas with bulk-bin foods at the supermarket. From Lisa Golden Schroeder.
• 1/2 lb. fresh tomatillos
• 1 small poblano chile
• 2 thick (1/2-in.) slices white onion
• 1/4 c. finely chopped pitted green olives
• 1/4 c. packed fresh cilantro leaves
• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
• 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
• 1 small ripe avocado, pitted and chopped
• Coarse salt, to taste
• Roasted and salted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds; see Note), to taste
Place the tomatillos (still in their husks), poblano chile and the onion slices on the grill over medium-high heat. (If you prefer to use a perforated grill pan or piece of foil with holes poked in it, do so, though the chile may not char on the exterior quite the same.) Cook the tomatillos until the husks are browned and the fruit is softened and begins to split, for several minutes. Remove the tomatillos from the grill. Continue roasting the onion until just tender and slightly charred. Finish grilling the chile, turning a few times, until charred and blistered over most of its surface. Place in a plastic bag and let it cool.
Scrape the charred skin from the poblano with a paring knife; remove the stem, veins and seeds if you’d like. Remove the tomatillo husks. Finely chop the poblano, tomatillos and onion together. Stir in the olives, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Gently stir in the avocado; season with salt. Sprinkle with pepitas.