Cooking Wright

Zuni Cafe-Style Zucchini Pickles


1 pound zucchini (about 4 medium)
1 small yellow onion
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. mustard seeds, crushed
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard*
1 tsp. turmeric


First make the brine my bringing the cider vinegar, sugar, salt, crushed mustard seeds, dry mustard, and turmeric to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl, and let cool until just warm to the touch.
Meanwhile, slice the zucchini 1/8 - 1/16-inch thick. A mandoline, if you have one, is very handy for this but a sharp knife and steady hand work just as well.
Peel, halve, and thinly slice the onion.
When the brine is cooled, add zucchini and onion slices. Stir to combine. Transfer mixture evenly into 3 pint jars, clean the edges, and screw on the tops. Refrigerate at least one day, and up to 6 months (although I've held them even longer than that and they've been fine).

Makes 3 pints Zucchini Pickles.

* You can crush the mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle or by putting them in a resealable plastic bag and pounding them gently with a rolling pin or the back of a frying pan.

This recipe is adapted from Judy Rodger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I've always ended up with more than 2 pints when I made it, so I've adjusted the amounts to yield 3 pints and streamlined the method a bit (the book has you salt and drain the vegetables first, the difference in final texture is, to most people, negligible). You still end up with sweet and kicky zucchini slices that are crunchy, brightly flavored with mustard, and a brilliant chartreuse color from turmeric. Zuni Cafe in San Francisco serves them with their famous hamburger. I do that too, but I also like to put them out when we have sausages or any grilled meat.

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