Sure, everyone seems to be pickling these days. But can they create that memorable pucker without sodium? This year, health and self care are even hotter topics than usual. So as we prepare for 2010, give a gift that tastes as good in your mouth as it is for your body. Due to my own health needs, I was forced to eliminate salt from my diet. But this never meant that I had to eliminate flavor. Over the past 6 years, I have been determined to create flavorful recipes that defy the odds of salt free cooking - and this pickle recipe is my latest success. The use of flavored vinegar, citrus, and turmeric allows the natural sweet tang of the fennel to really shine. And as a holiday gift, you couldn't find more of a show stopper. The pickled fennel is versatile in its culinary uses (chop up the fennel into a relish for a gourmet home-made burger), it is bright in presentation (almost looks like a snow globe with the floating spices), and it is devilishly impressive even though simple to make. So this holiday season, give a gift that is clearly made with love and is good for the heart.
Take two bulbs of fennel, cut off stems, wash, and slice in to crescent shaped spears.
Stuff fennel slices, some of the soft fennel fronds from the stem (packs extra flavor), 3cloves of garlic, and 2 dried chili peppers into mason jar.
Zest the orange and place zest in the mason jar with fennel.
Heat 2 cups of white wine vinegar, 1/2 a cup of sugar, juice from orange, 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard seed, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric in a pot. Remove from heat once it begins boiling.
Carefully (it’s hot!) fill the mason jar with heated pickling liquid (step 4). The heat tends to reduce the size of the fennel almost immediately, so if you have left over slices, stuff more into the jar.
For added punch, slice fresh ginger and put in jar as well. Once lid is closed, shake it up, allow to cool, and stick it in the fridge. In 2 days, it will be ready for munching. Should stay good for a month if refrigerated.
In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications. Five years later, I work part time and live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!