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Eat IN BED: Leftover Veg Antipasto Pickles with Alex Elliott-Howery

Words by Elisha Kennedy

Images by Andrew Butler

Pickling is addictive – it hooked Alex Elliott-Howery many years ago and her curiosity and zeal for it has only grown since. Swapping backyard produce with neighbours for preserves led to the opening of her own business, Cornersmith, which she runs alongside her husband James. Now they have two, much-loved neighbourhood cafés in Sydney’s Inner West and they also run their very own Picklery where they host a variety of cooking workshops and stock shelves with some of their popular preserves.

 

Cornersmith’s ethos is an extension of Alex’s mission to eliminate food waste. “I like to quick pickle whatever is left in my fridge at the end of the week” Alex tells us – and it’s something we really can all be doing.

Try and think of pickling as a way to reduce food waste in your kitchens. “You don’t need to make huge batches of things to get through winter!” Alex exclaims “make one or two jars (or even containers) with what you’ve got in your fridge and fruit bowl. Once you’re hooked you can set aside time to make 20 jars to fill up the pantry. It’s a home food craft that has been done in kitchens around the world for a really long time” Alex says. “You don’t need to be afraid of pickling!”

 

There’s also no need to go out and buy equipment, Alex recommends saving all old jars, buying vinegars in bulk and experimenting with whatever old spices are crowding your cupboard.

This week I’m mastering the art of pickling lettuce and perfecting my rotten banana jam, you can imagine how much my kids are loving that! But aside from pickling my compost, I’ve gotten really into making pasta at home. We have a new class called Pasta by Hand running at the Picklery and the teacher is a wealth of knowledge and makes it so easy. I can feel another obsession coming on!

 

This week I’m mastering the art of pickling lettuce and perfecting my rotten banana jam, you can imagine how much my kids are loving that!

THE RECIPE

“Zucchinis are the bane of my life. Both my kids hate them and we’ve always got to many. So, I often roast them and cover them with a pickling brine and then top them with oil. You end up with an antipasto style preserved vegetable. I have them through pasta, on homemade pizzas or on toast with ricotta and chilli sambal. You can do this with capsicums, eggplants, cauliflower and fennel as well.”

“My next veggie box is arriving tomorrow so this week I’ll be quick pickling half a bunch of radishes we didn’t eat and 1 lonely leftover beetroot. Last week it was ¼ bunch of celery and some ginger. It’s such a great way to use up bits and pieces that are lurking at the back of the fridge.”

“Pickled celery and radishes are great through grainy salads or tabouli style salads. The pickled beets we’ll have on burgers and my all time favourite pickled ginger, I toss through stir fries and noodle salads.”

“I love having a fridge full of pickles, not just because It’s an excellent way to reduce waste, but also because it makes midweek meals so much better. And a table full of condiments makes kid friendly meals so much more bearable.”

 

Zucchinis are the bane of my life. Both my kids hate them and we’ve always got to many. So, I often roast them and cover them with a pickling brine and then top them with oil. You end up with an antipasto style preserved vegetable. I have them through pasta, on homemade pizzas or on toast with ricotta and chilli sambal. You can do this with capsicums, eggplants, cauliflower and fennel as well.

 

Leftover Pickled Veg for Antipasto

Great for cheese plates, thrown in a pasta, on burgers and wraps.

 

Ingredients

Makes 4 x 300ml jars

Up to 1 kg of wrinkly vegetables, whatever is left in the fridge (eggplants, capsicums, zucchini, fennel, cauliflower, onions, chillies)

¼ cup olive or vegetable oil plus an extra half cup if using.

1.5 cups white wine vinegar (don’t use straight up white vinegar. Go for a white wine or apple cider vinegar)

¾  cup of water

1/3  cup of sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Spices of your choice: garlic cloves, lemon peel, peppercorn, rosemary, oregano, chilli flakes,  fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds etc.

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Chop your vegetables into good sized chunks, then evenly spread out on baking trays and cover with ¼ cup of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well with your hands to evenly disperse. Roast in the oven for 20 mins or until cooked and starting to brown, but not falling apart.

While your vegetables are roasting make your brine by combining vinegar, water, 1 teaspoon of salt and the sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Stir to dissolve then bring to the boil. Once boiling turn off the heat.

In clear jars or a tupperware container put the flavours and spices you have chosen. One teaspoon of whole spices, a sprig of rosemary and 2 sliced garlic cloves should be enough.

Pack in your roasted vegetables and pour over the hot brine, making sure the vegetables are completely covered. You can top the vegetable with a thin layer of oil if you would like. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel and seal.

Keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

 

Alex wears 100% Linen Apron in Blue & White Stripe throughout.

See more from Alex & Cornersmith here.

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