Thanks to Marisa from Food in Jars for creating a mastery challenge that keeps us all on track to “up our game” in preserving. Vegetables à la Grecque are very versatile. Served at room temperature, they can be an appetizer, a side dish, a salad ingredient, a tartine topper, and a great companion for a buffet of seasonal foods that tend to be rich. Christmas, Easter, and summer picnic menus include these pickles. Here I used fennel, sweet onions, celery and carrots. Mushrooms and cauliflower are also nice.
Most recently, I served the vegetables in rows on a platter, garnished with magenta watermelon radishes to add color. Alone, they’re delicious but visually subtle. I have tossed pickled fennel and onions into pasta with salmon, fresh shaved fennel and fennel fronds. Pickled celery makes a piquant egg salad.The dish is French in origin and the reference to Greek style is due to the way the vegetables are cooked in olive oil, wine, and, typically lemon, although this version uses vinegar instead. The technique is what I sometimes call “progressive” cooking, meaning that the vegetables are poached one after the other in the same liquid base, which gradually richens to create a flavorful broth that is poured over the top for storage. In this version, there’s a fair amount of olive oil in the mix of red and white wine vinegar, white wine, and spices such as coriander and fennel seeds and herbs such as bay leaf and thyme. The olive oil will float to the top and, when the dish is refrigerated, it creates a kind of seal. They last for at least a month in the refrigerator.This particular combination of pickling ingredients was inspired Tamar Adler’s July 2015 article in the New York Times (which I rewrote). I’ve also made and posted Fennel à la Grecque from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables. That version is much stronger, laced with lemon slices that become their own confit, extending the versatility one more step.
Vegetables à la Grecque, adapted from Tamar Adler, NYT
1 c fruity olive oil
½ c white wine vinegar
¼ c red wine vinegar
¼ c white wine
4 c water
2 tbsp Kosher or sea salt (not iodized)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 whole dried chilies
2 whole bay leaves
1 tsp saffron threads
A few branches fresh thyme
1 medium sweet onion, halved vertically and sliced vertically
2 c thinly, vertically sliced fennel
2 c thinly, diagonally sliced celery
2 c thinly, diagonally sliced carrots
Substitution: Use 4-6 c cauliflower florets, sliced vertically if larger and added after the fennel, or mixed mushrooms separated by type, added las
In a large pot, bring the liquids, spices and herbs just below a boil.
Cook each vegetable in batches in the seasoned liquid, separated by type. Follow the order listed above. Cook each until it can be pierced with a trussing needle. As each batch is done, scoop it out with a slotted spoon and place on a platter to cool. If spices or bits of the herbs stick to the vegetables, put what you can back in the pot. The liquid will be added to the end and redistribute the flavorings, so you needn’t be too picky about this.
When all of the vegetables are cooked and cooled, layer them in a large jar (or store them individually as you prefer) with the cooking liquid poured over the top.
Serves 8-12 pr more depending on the vegetable mix.